Kicking and streamlining are keys to fast underwater swimming.
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Despite what age-old locker room gossip may lead you to believe, swimming underwater is not inherently faster than sticking to the surface. Ultimately, the style of stroke in which you're able to maintain the fastest speeds -- whether it is the freestyle or front crawl -- is your best bet for overall quickness. While no single method guarantees record-setting speed, you can significantly increase your underwater swimming speeds with a few simple tweaks.1.
Use the underwater dolphin kick. To practice this technique, keep your legs together and your hands at your sides and press your chest down as your hips rise, allowing your knees to bend as your legs whip -- this movement mimics the pulsing motion of a dolphin swimming. Maintain a stable head and tense core as you swim. Although it's important to pulse your hips, focus on pushing water behind you with the legs for maximum speed.2.
Streamline your body. Shave your body hair and sport a racing cap and low-profile goggles for a slight speed bump. Keep your head in alignment with your body rather than elevated -- you'll be looking at the bottom of the pool rather than directly in front of you, so only practice this technique in spaces clear of obstacles. Keep your head level to reduce underwater drag.3.
Keep your elbows high. As you pull through a stroke, don't drop your elbows to your sides; instead, rotate your shoulder to keep your elbows high. Like keeping your head level with your body, keeping your elbows high cuts down on drag, thereby increasing speed.4.
Relax and loosen your legs. Warm up before you start swimming for speed by swimming slowly for about 10 minutes first. As you swim, focus on keeping your legs, feet and hips loose and relaxed. Strive for a smooth, fluid motion rather than choppy, aggressive snaps for more effective -- and faster -- kicking.
- Racing cap
- Low-profile swimming goggles
- In most sanctioned swimming events, the dolphin kick is illegal after the first 15 meters -- that doesn't stop you from using it for fun and fitness, though.
- Swimming Fastest: Ernest W. Maglischo
- The Wall Street Journal: Does Swimming Need a New Stroke?