Hey guys! I'm Jarrad Lawford and one of the coaches/writers here at Swimclan. I swam professionally for a number of years and have two Australian Age titles in the 5/10km open water. I've also won the Rottnest Channel Swim as a team member in 2010, as a solo competitor in 2012 and as a duo in 2013 with fellow Swimclan coach, Jason Evans.
Happy to jump in the water with you to have a look at your technique. I'm also available for one on one lessons if you request them. Below are some of the main tips for helping you guys improve your freestyle.
How to improve your freestyle:
1) Bent elbow catch underwater - This is MUCH stronger pulling through the water than a straight arm and is more sustainable over longer distances.
2) Pull the water away from your central body line - This allows you to swim in a straighter line, helps you catch more water with each stroke and prevents you from swimming in a 'snake' motion down the pool.
3) Exhale underwater before you breathe - Feel like you're out of breath and gasping after each lap? It might be because you're holding your breath underwater rather than exhaling. If you exhale underwater before breathing, it means you're only breathing IN with each breath, rather than having to quickly breathe out then in when turning your head to the side to breathe. Exhaling underwater will help you get more oxygen to your muscles and reduce fatigue.
4) Keep your head still - The only time your head should be moving at all is to simply turn to the side and breathe. Lifting your head up to breathe wastes a lot of energy and places stress on your neck, shoulder, abdominal and back muscles. It also makes your hips drop in the water which in turn makes it harder for you to swim. Try and keep your ear resting on your shoulder and have one goggle out of the water when you breathe to the side.
5) Keep your head down - Having your head to high in the water as you swim means the water will hit your forehead and slow you down. Have your head down underwater looking at the bottom of the pool so the water travels over the back of your head/neck as you swim. This is more hydrodynamic and faster moving through the water.
6) Try not to bend your knees too much when kicking - This is one of the major reasons why some swimmers struggle to keep their hips high in the water. The more you bend your knee when kicking, the more the hips sink. You want to relax the ankle joint and only have a small bend in the knee when kicking. Try and focus on sending all your power into the downward motion of your kick through your quadricep muscles.
7) Rotate your hips and shoulders - The more you rotate on each stroke, the more water you can catch with each stroke. As your left hand enters the water, the right sided of your hips should almost break the surface of the water.