Swimming: Reduce resistance and get better propulsion

lifeguard training

You can train yourself to notice when you create resistance in the water and when you increase the speed.
Gravity and buoyancy, water resistance and propulsion constantly affect you in swimming. Water sensation helps you to strengthen your progress.
As a swimmer, you are always exposed to opposing forces: Gravity and buoyancy, propulsion and resistance. As you make varied and repeated experiences in water, you develop water sensation with lifeguard training.

The feeling for water

Water sensation is an expression of your sense of water; how to feel the resistance of the water and increase your propulsion. Technical swimming training is usually aimed at reducing resistance and increasing propulsion so that you become faster. With water sensation you get a better feel for the technical details. At the same time, the experience of movement in the water increases.

There are some general principles of resistance in water that apply to all styles and all movements in water. You can read about them here. They can help you to analyze your swimming style and create improvements, even if you are not a trained instructor.

Once you have reduced the resistances, you will be able to go in and look at the individual styles’ possibilities for increasing the propulsion.

Buoyancy and gravity

Gravity is there all the time, even in the water. But we are affected by the buoyancy in the water. However, we notice it very differently depending on body type, age, gender and body composition.

Large, muscular legs will always sink in relation to round hips. Muscle tissue density is greater than water, so muscles sink. Adipose tissue has less density and flows.

We distinguish between two types of buoyancy:

Static buoyancy: The body floats because it displaces an amount of fluid
Dynamic buoyancy: A forward force lifts us upwards. Eg. crawl legs when starting from the edge, or when the water skier comes up after the speedboat. One can also think of the front of the speedboat in motion. We often need to move, that is, create momentum, to keep up.

Resistors in water

There are several different forms of resistance in the water; Frontal resistance, arc wave resistance, resistance caused by turbulence and frictional resistance.

Frontal resistance

Frontal resistance you feel “from the front”. It occurs when you lift your head or if you lie very vertically in the water. It is typically felt on the chest, abdomen and possibly thighs if you tend to “cycle” a lot in the water or pull your legs up a lot below you in breaststroke.

To reduce frontal resistance:

Pay attention to the position of the head: A raised head will often lower your legs and provide a larger surface for the frontal resistance of work on. Therefore, a very horizontal starting position is the goal in most styles.
Think narrow instead of wide: A wide starting position provides greater frontal resistance. Therefore, one will e.g. in crawl gather the insertion about a central axis of the body so that the style becomes as narrow as possible.

Arc wave resistance

Arc wave resistance you feel when e.g. is wave action in the basin. Railways dampen it. You also feel it when in breaststroke you create waves hitting yourself, at the start of a new armrest.

To reduce arc wave resistance:

In breaststroke, try to “ride with” on the wave that your arm pull makes. Make a small lift of the upper body up the back of the wave and dive down the front of the wave. You may have a slight sensation of the dolphins’ meandering movements in the water when you “ride the bow wave”.
As clean insertions as possible in e.g. crawl and back crawl will reduce splashing and splashing, and it will also reduce bow wave resistance.
Turbulence resistance
Resistance caused by turbulence is typically felt if you have a wrong starting position or make technical errors. Turbulence is small eddies that you set in motion as you move in the water. If there are a lot of current vortices, the feeling of something pulling you backwards can occur.

To reduce resistance caused by turbulence:

Pay attention to whether you are swimming in your crawling legs with relaxed ankles. Stiff and locked ankles typically create some rearward turbulence. Try to lock your ankles, kick and feel – what happens?
Pay attention to your starting position. A very vertical starting position will form a very large backside with masses of possibility of turbulence.

Frictional resistance

You feel frictional resistance when you swim with clothes on. Or if we had fur. The resistance does not challenge us violently, but we can play with challenging it, e.g. by swimming in clothes and thus creating greater strain.

To reduce frictional resistance:

Pay attention to your swimwear: Large shorts provide more resistance than tight-fitting swimwear. Elite swimmers wear swimming caps, cut their hair short and shave their bodies to win important hundreds.