How Do I Swim Faster?

Raising the head while swimming creates more drag.
To gain extra speed when swimming underwater, kick off of the side of the pool.
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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 09 April 2014
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If you’re a swimmer and want to improve your speed then there are a number of things you can try. Muscle strength is a big part of swimming speed — the more powerful a muscle is the better it will be at propelling the body through water. Aside from increasing muscle strength and power you should also consider looking at developing the most effective and efficient stroke. This can be achieved by training the body to keep the correct form while traveling at faster speed. Stretching is also a major part of learning to swim faster as more flexible muscles are more able to perform at peak levels.

Learning to swim faster is not generally something that can be achieved overnight. Like many fitness and sporting goals, swimming faster requires practice. Although many amateur swimmers can perform efficient strokes at low speed some tend to lose form and control when swimming faster. For this reason if you want to swim faster then it’s essential to practice your strokes at high speed regularly in order to gain control.

Practicing swimming faster will also help to build the muscles, which are required. Although it is possible to train specific muscles in a gym situation it’s nearly always more effective to train them while performing the activity. It’s important to keep in mind that speed training is often specific to a particular stroke be it backstroke, front crawl or butterfly.


Head position is something that can greatly affect your ability to swim faster. This isn’t just because the head can create extra water drag but also because its position has an effect on the rest of the body. For example, if you look up while swimming forward then your hips will be pushed downwards. On the other hand, if you look down while swimming your hips will be in a more neutral position.

The best head position for swimming is dependent on a number of factors including the distance of the swim and the strength of the kick. For example, someone with strong legs may see a small gain in speed by raising the head as it allows for a stronger kick. The drawback is this creates a stronger drag. Generally, most people will find that they can swim faster with the head lower. Which will work best for you is difficult to tell without practice which is why trying different techniques is essential.

The type of swimsuit you wear is also important. Creating drag during training swims will increase strength and speed. Many swimmers will wear a second suit on top of the first that has cuts in the fabric that create more resistance. Once these are removed, the swimming becomes easier. High-tech swim suits are designed to help improve swim speed too. When you are looking to cut ever possible fraction of a second from a swim time, other measures such as shaving off all body hair and/or wearing swim caps also can help someone swim faster.


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