Tactical Fitness: Can Improving Stroke Technique Increase Swim Speed?

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Marines practice proper swim techniques at Camp Lejeune.
U.S. Marines practice proper stroke techniques during a Water Survival Advanced (WSA) training at the Area 5 pool on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 6, 2017. (Pfc. Ginnie Lee/U.S. Marine Corps)

Hey Stew,

I'm currently training for Air Force CCT and I've been at it since January. I am just above the minimums for the PAST -- 500m swim, 1.5-mile run, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups -- except for the 500m swim. I can only swim a 50m in 45 seconds. However, I haven't managed to do a single 100m lap since I started swimming daily in January. I have talked to several swim coaches and they have given me advice at being a more efficient swimmer. My question is, what can I do to become a more efficient swimmer? Thank you for your time. 

Swimming is mostly technique and part conditioning. Once you learn the technique, you have to get in condition to swim 500 meters. That means swimming four to five days a week at least. You have to get in the water to get in swim shape. Make sure your coaches watch you swim, critique you and tell you how to fix your stroke. I am betting it is an easy fix of technique more than a lack of cardiovascular conditioning.

If coaches are not available to you, you can have someone take a smart phone video of you swimming, post it on YouTube and send me the link at stew@stewsmith.com.  I will critique your swim for you. 

NOTE: Have your camera holder turn the phone sideways for best results.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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