Master the Basics of Swimming: 5 Key Techniques for Faster Laps

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Swimming is not only a great form of exercise but also a popular competitive sport. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced swimmer, mastering the basics is essential for improving your speed and efficiency in the water. In this article, we will explore key techniques that can help you become a faster swimmer.

swimmer doing freestyle stroke

1. Streamline Your Body Position

One of the most important aspects of swimming is maintaining a streamlined body position in the water. This reduces drag and allows you to move through the water more efficiently. To achieve a streamlined position, focus on the following:

  • Keep your body straight by aligning your head, spine, and hips.
  • Extend your arms in front of you and press your biceps against your ears.
  • Engage your core muscles to maintain a stable body position.

By practicing and perfecting your streamline position, you can significantly reduce resistance and increase your speed in the water.

2. Improve Your Breathing Technique

Proper breathing technique is crucial for maintaining a steady rhythm and maximizing your oxygen intake while swimming. Here are some tips to improve your breathing technique:

  • Exhale continuously while your face is in the water, and inhale quickly when you turn your head to breathe.
  • Time your breaths with your strokes to maintain a smooth and consistent rhythm.
  • Practice bilateral breathing (breathing on both sides) to improve your overall balance and stroke symmetry.

By mastering your breathing technique, you can swim more efficiently and avoid feeling out of breath during your workouts or races.

3. Develop a Strong Pull and Catch

The pull and catch phase of your stroke is when you generate propulsion in the water. To develop a strong pull and catch, focus on the following:

  • Engage your latissimus dorsi muscles (lats) to initiate the pull.
  • Keep your elbows high and bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Maintain a high elbow position during the catch phase to maximize your pulling power.

By strengthening your pull and catch, you can increase your stroke efficiency and propel yourself through the water with less effort.

4. Kick from the Hips

A strong and efficient kick is essential for maintaining speed and balance in the water. To improve your kicking technique, focus on kicking from your hips:

  • Keep your legs relatively straight and kick from your hip joints.
  • Point your toes and kick in a small, fast, and consistent motion.
  • Avoid excessive knee bending, as it can create drag and slow you down.

By mastering the hip-driven kick, you can enhance your overall swimming speed and efficiency.

5. Practice Drills and Technique Work

In addition to focusing on specific techniques, incorporating drills and technique work into your training can help you refine your skills and improve your overall swimming performance. Here are a few drills to consider:

  • Catch-up drill: Swim with one arm extended in front of you while the other arm completes a full stroke. Alternate arms and focus on maintaining a proper catch and pull.
  • Fist drill: Swim with closed fists to emphasize the importance of a strong pull and catch.
  • One-arm drill: Swim with one arm extended in front of you while the other arm is kept by your side. Rotate arms after a set distance or time.

By incorporating these drills into your training routine, you can reinforce proper technique and enhance your swimming efficiency.

6. Utilize Interval Training

Interval training involves alternating between periods of high-intensity swimming and active recovery. By incorporating interval training into your workouts, you can improve your endurance, speed, and overall performance in the water. Here’s how to get started:

  • Determine your target pace or goal time for a specific distance.
  • Swim at a high intensity (close to your target pace) for a set distance or time.
  • Recover by swimming at a slower pace or resting for a predetermined interval.
  • Repeat the cycle for multiple sets.

Interval training not only helps you build endurance but also trains your body to swim at faster speeds for longer periods.


Mastering the basics of swimming is essential for improving your speed and efficiency in the water. By focusing on body position, breathing technique, pull and catch, kick technique, drills, and interval training, you can enhance your overall swimming performance. Remember to practice regularly, seek feedback from a coach or experienced swimmer, and be patient with your progress. With dedication and consistent effort, you can become a faster and more efficient swimmer.