4 Tips for Swimming More Efficiently


Randeen Torvik-Ragan 
by Randeen Torvik-Ragan
Personal trainer

Whether you're swimming in a pool or in open water, for leisure or for competition, these drills and tips will help you swim more efficiently. 

Breathing Both Sides
Practice this with the “zipper drill:”
  • Swim on side, bring arm up your side like zipping (or unzipping) a zipper.
  • When your arm meets the outstretched arm, kick briefly, pull down the opposite arm and move to other side.
  • Repeat zipping action, bringing arm up to meet outstretched arm, onto stomach and kick briefly, pull down, repeat.
  • The objective here is to make your stroke as long as possible while developing a comfort zone on both sides.
  • Swimming three strokes then taking a breath will help you to keep an eye on your competition as well as develop endurance and efficiency.

Stroke Lengthening and Counting 
  • The goal is to make you PULL rather than CHOP your way through the water. If you chop, you will take too many strokes to get to your destination, wasting too much energy along the way.
  • Concentrate on reaching long and pulling hard and completely through the water before beginning your stroke on other side.
  • With each stroke, you want to reach as if you are trying to touch the opposite side of the pool. This way, you will be making the very most out of your body length and distance.
  • To further maximize this form, count your strokes on a lap and bring your stroke count down just one or two strokes per lap.

Fast/Easy Drills
  • This helps you to get your heart rate going and to build endurance.
  • Do 50 or 100 yard swims depending on your fitness level.
  • You can make up any combination you want to keep it interesting, but there must always be at least ONE fast length in that distance. So you could do Fast/Easy/Fast/Easy or Easy/Fast/Easy/Fast.
  • In time, you can do the entire 50 (or 100) FAST, then 50 EASY for several segments.

  • This is for open water swimming.
  • You want to get used to lifting your head just with goggles out of water for sighting straight ahead and perfecting breathing on both sides to see what’s going on on either side of you. All of this takes practice and strengthening your stroke so that you are comfortable in the water; at that point, lifting your head becomes simply a small diversion from your regular stroke.

Randeen has been a swimmer since the age of 7 and is passionate about the benefits of swimming and sharing them with her clients. 

Set up a training session with Randeen today!