Swimming leaving you exhausted?


Swimming can be overly tiring, even for fit individuals with good endurance levels.  Sound familiar?

Swimming is the most efficiency intensive activity.  How well you swim is determined 80% or more by efficiency.  How well you run is determined more by mileage.

Water is an unstable medium and needs to be approached differently to how we move and exercise on land.  Swimming efficiency is improved by ‘problem solving‘.

Our energies are best spent exploring and reducing the main causes of energy waste, if you want to see real improvement anything else is simply a waste of energy.






  1. Humans are heavier than water

A human body achieves equilibrium with only 5% of the body above the surface.  Our Primal instinct is to lift our head, this causes the legs to sink and your strokes are more for survival, this has an emotional costs as well as physical.  Our Head is 8% of body mass and it’s position in the water directly impacts the rest of the body.


  1. We’re unbalanced

We are designed for vertical balance on firm ground, where gravity keeps us firmly on the ground.  A hollow upper torso, which holds 6 litres of air, our hips and legs are densely packed with bone and muscle.  As we swim gravity pulls down our lower body, while buoyancy pushes up our lungs.  Changes in weight distribution are essential to achieving a balanced, near sense of weightlessness in the water.


  1. We’re unstable

Maintaining stability while stroking and breathing are exceptionally rare.  Feelings of instability can induce a sense of panic. Instability is further magnified when we lift parts of our body from the water.  Sensing instability the body is only capable of steadying actions, these actions will not contribute to balance, streamlining or propulsion.


  1. Water is a wall

Water is nearly 1000x denser than air, drag will simply sap your energy.  Water resistance increases as we move faster, eg 5% faster increases drag by 25% (100m 2:00 down to 1:54).  Swimming a little faster takes a lot more effort.  ALL actions should be to reduce resistance.


  1. Moving parts

Aquatic mammals have a UNIBODY, they can maintain an unchanging streamlined shape.  Humans have many moving parts, we change shape constantly, increasing drag.  Vessel shaping, dramatically increases the distance you travel per stroke, this allows for fewer shape changes.  Cut 25m stroke count from 25 – 20 = 20% fewer shape changes, reducing drag further.


  1. Breathing is a skill

Choking is a primal fear, so breathing to new swimmers can make them feel anxious and panicked.  It is rare for a skilled swimmeret exhibit seamless breathing, many still have survival habits that will negatively impact on their balance and stability, even among elite swimmers.  This will cause a moment of deceleration in every breathing cycle.


A swimmers priority is to REDUCE drag and eliminate those skills that cause drag.  Our goal is to conserve momentum and move THROUGH the water, we do not want to move the water around.


Always aim to be:-


BALANCED – well supported, even weightless

LONG – you travel more than the length of your body right and left

SLIPPERY – low drag profile while stroking and breathing

INTEGRATED – swimming with your whole body, with correct posture, upper and lower body aligned and connected to your spine

RELAXED – never strained, even while swimming at pace


By addressing these universal problems and taking away moments of deceleration, we strive for highly efficient swimming capable of perpetual motion.  Integrated whole body swimming, where movement, muscles and breath connect and synchronise. This combined with the available force of gravity, produces far more power than the most forceful arm stroke, without requiring any individual muscles to work hard.

No aspect of our behaviour is fixed, therefore all skill is improvable.  The brain plays a far more significant role than the body in swimming well.  

Anders Ericsson Ph.D Professor of Psychology concluded that there is NO ‘gene’ for excellence, successful people engage in ‘deliberate practice’, meaning if you target and design activities that improve your own performance and push through and continue to improve on ‘good enough’

You can be exceptional!

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