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Speedo Says...

Master your body position by Fred Vergnoux

Want to discover the small body positioning change that could help you conserve energy, swim for longer and get more from your workout? Here, award-winning elite coach, Fred Vergnoux, reveals the body positioning tips and easy technique tweaks that could make all the difference. Your efficient new swim starts here.

Body positioning

Body positioning is fundamental to a good swim. The more resistance you create in the water with your body, the more energy you expend. So if you want to swim faster for longer, you need to have a great streamlined body position in the water. Top swimmers say that when they swim fast and achieve the right body position, it feels easy, and I know that finding that body position can help them swim longer and train a few metres more, or even a few thousand more.

To improve your body positioning, aim to make one small change this week from the suggestions below:

Iron out curves

For me, your spine, your back and neck should be as flat (horizontal) as possible as the more curves you have, the more resistance you’re going to create. Try to keep your hips up, your spine flat and long, and your neck in line with your spine.

Work on your head position first

If you take a swimmer and move their head, what happens is the body follows. So if you start with the wrong head position, everything from your head, shoulders and back, down to your feet, is going to go wrong too. Aim to get your head position to be perfect, or as perfect as possible, and in line with your spine.

Use a pullbuoy to help keep your legs high

If you’re struggling to keep your hips high and find your legs drop really quickly, try using a pullbuoy to support you while you work on your body position in the water.

Engage your core

My swimmers work on their core every day because the stronger your core, the faster you’re going to be able swim. To maintain the correct swimming position your body needs to be really tense and to achieve that strength requires a strong core. Work on your core stability in the gym, both in static exercises like the plank, and in dynamic exercises such as using a medicine ball.

Speedo tip: Our technique-enhancing Speedo Fit Pinnacle swimwear has been designed to raise awareness of your core and help you engage key muscles for a more efficient body position.

Freestyle – elongate and flatten your neck

As we’ve covered, to achieve a good position, you need to avoid having curves in your spine, especially your neck. A lot of freestyle swimmers make the mistake of having ‘no neck’, which is a sign they haven’t achieved the correct head and body position. A coach (or training partner) should be able to see your neck when you’re swimming, so ask someone to watch your swim and check. A centre snorkel can help you work on this.

Breaststroke - fix your chin position

To achieve an aligned head and body positioning for breaststroke, you should look down a little bit, not forward, when you swim (looking higher than the water line is a huge mistake). To help conserve energy, your chin should be fixed when you raise your head to take a breath – practise raising your head by using the back of your neck, instead of your chin.

Use training aids to help you achieve a good body position

Fins provide propulsion and make things a little easier, giving you time to think about and work on achieving a good body position, while a centre snorkel allows you to work on your technique without worrying about your breathing. For extra propulsion, you could add power paddles – often the added resistance can help you to work out whether you need to bring your head up or keep it down.

Speedo tip: For more about using a centre snorkel, watch our centre snorkel users’ guide.

Try this backstroke head positioning exercise:

To lock your head in the correct position, visualise having a glass of water on your forehead as you swim.

Try the body positioning drill:

Wear a centre snorkel for this drill. In a streamlined position, swim with your arms alongside your legs and work on your head and body position. This can be done with freestyle kick, breaststroke kick and with a fly kick, which is a little bit more challenging.

Summary of the week

  • A training aid can help you work on your positioning – fins help add speed while a pullbuoy can help raise your hips.

  • Work on your technique from your head downwards. This will ensure the rest of your body follows the correct line.

  • Iron out curves – aim for a flat head and spine.

Next week…read about the small change to your stroke technique that promises a faster, more efficient swim.