July 4, 2019
Improving the underwater phase of a swim is a key component to swimming faster. Maximizing time underwater isn’t about spending the longest time underwater. It’s about using this time to gain distance off the walls quickly, while retaining as much speed as possible.
Here are 5 tips to maximize time underwater.
1. Maintain a tight streamline
Swimmers reach maximum speed right at the end of the push-off, before drag starts to take hold. In this moment, reducing drag is a critical factor in improving the underwater portion of a swim.
The easiest, most effective way to reduce drag is to keep a tight streamline position throughout the underwater phase. This will allow you to go farther, faster.
2. Aim for high push-off strength
Given that the fastest speed for any given length occurs right at the end of the push-off, a stronger push-off will produce greater speed that can be sustained longer during the underwater phase.
A powerful push-off helps you accelerate off the walls quicker, and provides more speed to carry you through the underwater all the way to the breakout and stroking portion of the swim.
3. Know when to break surface
A large part of maximizing time underwater is breaking out at the optimal time. Taking the first stroke too early minimizes the advantage gained from the initial speed off the walls. Conversely, spending too long underwater will also slow you down.
The ideal distance to break surface is at the point where speed underwater drops far enough to match maximum stroking speed.
4. Be consistent
Most swimmers tend to drop time underwater as a race progresses, but one thing that sets faster swimmers apart is their ability to maintain consistency throughout the race.
The key is to focus on producing consistent time underwater, without sacrificing distance or speed. This means being consistent with a strong push-off and powerful dolphin kicks.
5. Have a strong up-kick
In dolphin kicks, most swimmers tend to have a strong down kick and weaker up kick. While majority of the propulsive force comes from the down kick, the up kick is also a significant source of speed.
To truly maximize time underwater, every component should be optimized. A missed detail is a missed opportunity to swim faster.