The 4 biggest swim form blunders (and how to fix them) - Part 1: Overreaching

I often hear from people that the number one reason they couldn’t do a triathlon is because of the swim. They never mention running or cycling, and seem both fearful of swimming at distance or show a lack of confidence in their ability.

This four-series article will explore the common issues that most people face with swimming and will provide some solutions for addressing the issue.

As a former competitive swimmer who just got back into swimming a couple years ago, I found that I returned with some bad habits. Given my base knowledge of the sport and 18+ years in the pool ,  I have developed a unique view into the issues that plague swimmers.

Let’s start with a quick lesson on hydrodynamics, or the interaction between your body and the water. According to Wired, there are four forces related to swimming:

· Gravitational: Downward force dependent on swimmer’s mass

· Buoyancy: Upward force proportional to volume of water displaced by swimmer

· Drag: As a swimmer pushes forward, water pushes back, creating drag

· Thrust: The force that the swimmer creates to push back against drag

So the swimmer needs to balance gravitational and buoyancy forces to stay at the surface, while counteracting the drag of swimming through the water. Your thrust, or your pull and kick, will carry you forward.

Part 1: Overreaching

The Blunder: When your stroke crosses over in front of your head and body, rather than out in front of your shoulder (See GIF image).

Why it’s a blunder: This overreach will create more drag while also affecting your forward movement. In the GIF below, you will see the drastic turn right that the swimmer makes when the left arm crosses over in front of the body. (And believe me, this video was not staged).

The Fix: Imprinting your stroke will help you fix this. To determine if you are over reaching, film yourself. Your stroke instead should go in front of you, just outside of your shoulder path. The swimmer in the video gets it right with his first stroke with his right hand.

Find this spot, using a friend or video if needed, and practice this stroke while standing in place in the pool (head underwater, go to the deeper part of the pool if needed). Stand in place and try to hit this mark, imprinting in your brain the location where your hand plunges and seeing it underwater.

Then stand in place and film it again, making sure that your imprint is in the right place. Practice hitting this spot every time you swim, and continue to film it regularly to make sure the lesson has taken root.

Click here for Part 2: Bent Knee During Kick