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Step 3/5 to drastically improve your swimming stroke and speed

Step 3) Increase your Stroke Rate

Overgliding versus initiating the catch straight away

Here's another catch fault I often see in my Video Analysis sessions - an overglide. This term refers to the swimmer spending too much time lengthening out at the front, which actually serves as a brake, slowing you down rather than increasing stroke length. I've drawn yellow lines on the picture to indicate how the arm should be positioned in the water, to initiate the catch straight away. This may make the stroke feel 'shorter', but takes less time, thereby increasing your stroke rate, or number of strokes per minute and hence your swimming speed. Swim faster to swim faster - who knew!?

To initiate the catch straight away (and remove an overglide if you have one), you need to keep a slight bend in the elbow as you extend your arm and keep your finger tips slightly angled down:

Tip your wrist and bend your elbow

If you're used to overgliding, getting into this position can feel a bit strange at first.

This drill is both superb for removing an overglide and increasing what coaches call 'feel for the water', or the pressure backwards creating propulsion. With a pull buoy between your legs, scull the water side to side with a slightly bent elbow and tipped wrist, resisting the urge to do breastroke! Keep your palm flat and fingers together. Scull half a length then go into freestyle with just your arms. You should be able to feel the extra speed gained from the improved technique and arm speed.

Drill #2: Use a Tempo Trainer in Stroke Rate mode

These gadgets are great for improving your stroke rate, or strokes per minute (spm). Try putting in roughly 5-6 spm faster than your base stroke rate (usually around 50spm if you're a beginner or lower if you're a swimmer who overglides), so 56-60 spm and then swim to the beat, one beep per arm.

In my third Tuesday Tech squad session 'Improving your Stroke Rate', I'll measure everyone's base stroke rate and give you a Tempo Trainer at a slightly increased rate so you can see how it feels. I highly recommend you purchase your own here.

Don’t forget to look out for more of my swimming tips next week! Drop me an email if you think of something you would really like me to focus on.

Happy swimming!!

Annie will be coaching five sessions on improving your swimming stroke and speed starting with 'Improving your Drag' on Tuesday 1st October at 8.45pm, followed by 'Increase your Pulling Power' and 'Increase your Stroke Rate' in subsequent weeks. Available for £15 PAYG or £60 for a five session block. Early booking here recommended!

Book a private Video Analysis by calling Annie on 07429830696 or emailing

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