24 January 2022

Want to be a better swimmer?

March 22, 2012
Photo credit: Stewart Grant

Photo credit: Stewart Grant

We asked world champion swimmer and Swimathon ambassador Keri-Anne Payne for her top tips…

Keep your head steady

To achieve the best possible body position while swimming focus on ensuring your head makes a smooth and stable course through the water with your back following the same trail calmly in its wake.

Your head is heavy so has the biggest influence on your movement through water. Hold it high and your legs sink. Burying it in the water will make your bottom stick out!

Streamline yourself

Think of streamlining as reaching out in front of yourself. Many people start their front crawl stroke with a slight bend in the elbow which creates unnecessary drag.

Stretch forward to the point where the top of your shoulder touches your cheek. Remember to maintain stillness and stability in your stroke and keep your head still in the water – the reaching out should not change the trajectory of your head.

Training your body with routine

Repeating the same workout means your body responds and adapts. Once it has adapted then it is time to push your body harder or change the routine to tax other muscle groups or body systems – short sprints will build strength while long distance works the cardiovascular system for endurance.

Strength training builds muscle so every day you burn more energy. Endurance training will increase stamina and burn more body fat.

Gradually increase effort

The object is to see a gradual sustainable improvement. By limiting your increase in effort to no more than 10 per cent you are unlikely to become too tired or sore. This will mean you are less likely to miss your next session.

Your main goal should be consistency as fitness will be gained over time.


Swimming will naturally improve the suppleness of your muscles. However, it is an extremely good idea to stretch your muscles and work on joint mobility regularly. This is a key area of health and fitness that is often overlooked at a cost.

Be supported by the wonders of water

When you are in water it cocoons and supports you, which is why astronauts train in it. It gives them a sense of weightlessness. Try to turn off your land/gravity based response system.

In water all you need to do is relax and let the water take the strain.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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