How to reduce drag when you swim and swim!

How to reduce drag when you swim and swim!

Paul Newsome · 2 minute read

How is it even possible to knock off 10 minutes from your 1500m swim time?

Today we’re going to look at the second step in our Stroke Correction Hierarchy to help you make some further (massive) gains!

So on last week’s blog we discussed whether two common swimming acronyms – SWOLF (or swimming-golf) and BLABT (stroke correction hierarchy) are beneficial (or harmful) for your swimming, at least when taken too literally and even out of context.

What’s next on the Stroke Correction Hierarchy? That’ll be drag, or rather, how to reduce it! Unfortunately there is no silver bullet for reducing drag in the freestyle stroke. Common causes include:

  1. holding onto your breath which increases buoyancy in the chest cavity and sinks the legs

  2. lifting the head too high to breathe which sinks the legs

  3. looking too far forwards in the water which sinks the legs

  4. crossing over in front of the head which causes the legs to scissor kick apart and sink

  5. poor core control allowing the legs to sink and the hips to snake from side to side, tight muscles in the upper back, hips and ankles which cause the legs to sink.

A swimmer needs to think of the above link a little checklist - ticking off each one as you analyse your stroke for factors that might be adding to your drag.

Ultimately, you only need to solve one equation to swim well:

Efficiency = reduce DRAG + increase effective PROPULSION

So how exactly did Charles, a half-Iron triathlete knock off 10 minutes over 1500m between session 1 and session 2 of his stroke correction with me? Well, he believed it was all down to my input suggesting he look more down to the bottom of the pool, but if we actually check out his before and after video from a few angles, you’ll see there was a bit more to it than that.

Finally, we'll check out the analysis with Mahesh from just yesterday – it’s a great link between the first two steps in our Stroke Correction Hierarchy – Breathing and Drag – and I hope the tips here today allow you to work through some of your own drag issues this week whilst you wait for step three in the hierarchy!