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How To Swim Freestyle Better: To Glide Or Not To Glide

Don't immediately go to Glide

At first glance, you would be tempted to think that this was a technique for advanced swimmers and to a degree, you would be correct. But there are a lot of adult swimmers learning how to swim freestyle better, that struggle to move further and more rapidly in the water. In an attempt to fix their stroke, they are told to glide better.

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How To Swim Freestyle Better

There are one of two false assumptions here:
  1. The instructor has made the mistake of assuming that the reason their student is still moving so slow in the water, is because they are not reaching far enough ahead in order to grab enough water to pull and push themselves along.
  2. The instructor is trying to introduce more rotation into the student's body before they are ready.
Both are great excellent things to try and fix; if you have identified the problem correctly. Sometimes the problem is much more simple than that. Sometimes the problem is just the the student is taking too FEW strokes.

How do you tell if the problem with the adult swimmer is that they are taking too few or too many strokes?

It is actually quite simple.

If the student is swimming flat out and making way less progress in the water than you would expect, then their stroke is probably incomplete in some way. In this case working on arm extension both front and back (that is improve their reach, their pull and their push completing their stroke each time), will probably fix the problem.

Image of man swimming freestyle in a pool lane: This article is about how to swim freestyle better to glide or not
Freestyle Glide
But if the student is already reaching and completing their stroke yet still traveling too slow in the water, then the chances are that they are just not doing enough strokes.

Now if this happens with an adult swimmer who relatively inexperienced, you can't just give them the instruction to do more stokes. They may not have the strength or stamina to do any more then what they are doing. You will have to build them up.

Basically, an adult swimmer who has this problem needs to do more in the lessons. They may need to become minor training sessions. Nothing fancy, just gets them to swim a little bit further each time. Half a lap, or even a quarter of a lap per week, depending on the student, is more than enough. It just has to be some improvement each week. You are not asking them to go to the gym or get a personal trainer.


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