Maintaining Your Free Speed

Last week, we discussed creating free speed off of each wall with your streamline position. This week, we pick up with maximizing your breakout (that moment when you take your first stroke). Here are two elements to your breakout:

  • Depth: How deep you are on the push off is an important concept. Too shallow and you will be fighting through the turbulence you created swimming into the turn. Too deep and you will not be able to get too the surface before you have lost too much speed before you reach the surface
  • Timing: You want to reach the surface and take that first stroke just before you are about to break the surface of the water.
  • Speed: In the last bullet “Timing” I explained when to take the first stroke, but when you want to reach the surface is just as important. Stay underwater only as long as you can go faster underwater than you can on the surface. Very few of us can go the legal 15-yard max (fly, back, and free) under water without decelerating to a speed slower than what we can do swimming at the surface.

    We never want to have to accelerate after the push off, it takes a significant amount of energy. Breakout while you are going just slightly faster than you can swim.

  • First stroke: This point only applies to freestyle. As you came off the wall in your turn you should be rotated at least 45 degrees from your stomach. Ensure your first stroke is on the side of the shoulder closest to the bottom. The top arm will be badly positioned for power.

Combine a tight streamline, explosive push off, and a great breakout and get easy speed off of each wall.  I realize it won’t be easy while you develop good habits and the breath control, but with practice this takes very little energy to do and saves you energy you would have spent in extra strokes for each length of the pool.


Leave a Comment