When swimming, one of the most important aspects is making sure you have the correct body position. All four strokes require a good position to allow for the most efficiency in each stroke you take.

You may see or hear the swim instructors shouting down the pool to get your child to put their chin on their chest. This is because the head position can dictate the overall body position in the water. The aim in swimming is to have your entire body aligned from head to toes to limit the amount of drag created.

If your child has their head up high above the water in freestyle, it will lower their legs and hips, which will make it harder for them to swim, as this creates more drag in the water. In relation to the body position when breathing in freestyle, it is again important to keep the head in a similar position in the water. We aim to have your child breathe to the side whilst keeping their head by their shoulder in order to stop them from lifting their head when they roll to breathe. This again helps to limit the amount of drag created when swimming freestyle.

In backstroke, we aim to push the head back in the water, in order to bring the hips and toes up towards the surface. You may often hear “Toes up!” being shouted by the instructors. This relates to the body position in backstroke. Having the legs sinking down in the water is one way to increase drag.

Breaststroke is a stroke that creates the most drag, so the body position is extremely important when gliding in between strokes. This is why we emphasise gliding when swimming breaststroke – this is when the body is the most streamlined throughout the entire stroke. We aim to get the head down and hips up when gliding, keeping the body aligned from head to toe.

In butterfly, we need to maintain a good head position in order to bring the hips up, just like in freestyle. Butterfly requires a lot of hip movement, so we need to make sure that we keep the hips up and head right down when not breathing.

Being as streamlined as possible in the water is an important aspect in swimming that cannot be overlooked, and working on the body position helps this. Here are a few tips and drills that you can give your child to hopefully help them with their body position in the water and to get them thinking about how important it is:

  1. In order to learn the basics for head position, we aim to get your child to put their chin on their chest in freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly. In backstroke, the head must be pushed right back and looking to the ceiling.
  2. Kicking with your arms down by your side is one way to get a good body position. Make sure that your child is thinking about getting their head down in freestyle/butterfly and head right back in backstroke. Their hips should be up, trying to align their body for freestyle, butterfly and backstroke.
  3. Kicking on your side with one arm up in the breathing position while keeping one eye in the water is good practice for maintaining correct head position in freestyle.
  4. Holding an extended glide whilst thinking about the body position is a useful drill for breaststroke.

Hopefully this article will help you to get a better understanding on why the body position is so important to achieve streamline and minimise drag, resulting in more efficient swimming.

If there are any technique tips you’d like us to tackle, let us know by emailing [email protected]nnium.org.nz.

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Jacob Garrod works for AUT Millennium Swim School and the Schools Programme. He started back in February 2015 and teaches from Breather Level right through to Development Two. Whilst working part time, he is also in the home stretch of completing his Bachelor of Business Degree at Massey University in Albany. Jacob learned to swim aged three, and became a competitive swimmer at the age of 7. He continued right through until 22, clocking up 15 years in the sport. He specialised in breaststroke and has represented New Zealand on the international level, attending two Oceania Championships in 2014 and 2016, where he managed to get five medals - three gold, and two silver. Jacob also attended the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, in Nanjing, China, and the 2017 World University Games, in Taipei, Taiwan. Jacob attended multiple National Championships where he managed to get medals throughout the years, from junior level, to age group level, right through to open level.

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