5 Tips for Improving Your Freestyle Technique by Amy Smith

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5 Tips for Improving Your Freestyle Technique


BY AMY SMITH

Amy Smith is one of the top British sprinters of the early 21st century. A multiple European and Commonwealth Games medallist, Amy also represented GB at the 2012 Olympics, finishing 5th in the 100m freestyle relay and 9th in the 50m freestyle! Today she runs Swim Swift Elite with fellow Olympian and life partner Joe Roebuck, helping youth and masters swimmers from around the globe improve not only their technique, but their confidence and understanding around the sport.

5 Tips for Improving Your Freestyle Technique


BY AMY SMITH

Amy Smith is one of the top British sprinters of the early 21st century. A multiple European and Commonwealth Games medallist, Amy also represented GB at the 2012 Olympics, finishing 5th in the 100m freestyle relay and 9th in the 50m freestyle! Today she runs Swim Swift Elite with fellow Olympian and life partner Joe Roebuck, helping youth and masters swimmers from around the globe improve not only their technique, but their confidence and understanding around the sport.

1. Fix head position

Maintain a neutral head position with the eye-line always looking down, never straight forwards. Imagine you are wearing headphones, the water line should be where the band goes. This will keep your neck relaxed and stop you arching your back. Think about keeping the back of your neck long.

2. Flatten off back and engage core muscles

Tilt your hips and engage your deep core muscles, these being your pelvic floor, diaphragm, transverse abdominis and other smaller muscles. This will flatten off your back and stabilize you in the water. It could take practice to get the hips to tilt posteriorly and flatten off the back, but try this on land first. Lay on your back with your arms above your head in streamline, and tilt the hips so that you can try to feel the floor with your lower back whilst keeping the rest of your body relaxed. Then try to transfer this to the water (now on your front), floating with a pull buoy between your ankles. Don’t allow your head to dip and your bum to rise, it’s all about the hip tilt. Keeping your core engaged whilst you are swimming will keep your upper and lower body connected and working as one unit, thereby preventing swimmers from wiggling or bouncing. You will also get more power in your stroke.

3. Hip rotation

As your arm is at its catch point your opposite hip should be high in the water. Drive your opposite hip towards your hand as you pull with a high elbow. This is how you generate power in the stroke and having already engaged your core, you will be using larger stronger muscles to pull, whilst also getting more length in every stroke. You should be getting nearly a 90 degree rotation from flat, to maximum rotation during your stroke.

4. Fingers point down

As you pull, your fingers should point down towards the floor with your elbow remaining in a fixed position. Think about catching the water with, and feeling pressure on your forearm too. This will feel much easier to pivot at the elbow if you are on a good rotation as mentioned above. No in and out movements, your pull should be straight down your centre line.

5. Trickle breathe

Don’t hold your breath. Slowly release your air before turning your head to take your next breathe. This means that you are not holding air in your lungs and building up poisonous CO2, but you can also take less time to take your breath. Trickle breathing will make you much less ‘out of breath’ than explosive breathing.

ABOUT AMY


Learning how to swim only at the age of 8, Amy Smith seemed like an unlikely candidate to become a professional swimmer. But 16 years later, Amy was one of Britain’s best sprinters, representing her country at the 2012 Olympic Games, finishing 5th in the Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, and 9th by a tiny 0.16 of a second in the 50m freestyle. In addition, she is triple Masters World record holder for the 25-29 years 50m Freestyle and Butterfly, and 100m Freestyle.

Amy and her partner Joe Roebuck started Swim Swift Elite in 2014 after retiring from their international swimming careers. Wanting to put back into the sport and share their knowledge and experience, they now work all over the world with competitive swimmers from age 10 and up to help them improve not only their technique, but their confidence and understanding around the sport, including their highly successful age group camp in Croatia every August.

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