How to Improve Your Swimming Technique for Long Distance Swimming

Are you a swimmer who loves to take on long distance swims? Or are you a beginner looking to improve your endurance and technique in the pool? Either way, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll be exploring the best ways to swim long distance, including tips and tricks from experts in the field. From the importance of proper nutrition to the right way to pace yourself, we’ll cover everything you need to know to improve your swimming technique for long distance swimming. So grab a towel, hop in the pool, and let’s get started!

Preparing for Long Distance Swimming

Understanding the Importance of Proper Preparation

Proper preparation is the key to success in long distance swimming. It is important to understand that preparation is not just about physical training, but also mental preparation.

Physical Preparation

Building Endurance

Endurance is crucial for long distance swimming. Building endurance involves gradually increasing the distance and duration of your swims over time. This can be achieved by incorporating regular training sessions that include intervals, hill sprints, and long slow distance (LSD) swims.

Staying Hydrated

Dehydration can be a major issue during long distance swimming, so it is important to stay well-hydrated before, during, and after your swims. Drink plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids in the days leading up to your swim, and consume electrolyte-rich fluids during your swim.

Fueling for the Swim

Fueling for a long distance swim is essential to maintain energy levels and prevent low blood sugar. Consuming a high-carbohydrate meal before your swim and taking in carbohydrates during your swim can help keep your energy levels up.

Stretching and Warm-up

A proper warm-up is important to prepare your muscles for the swim and prevent injury. Incorporate a dynamic warm-up that includes stretching, light aerobic exercise, and muscle activation exercises.

Mental Preparation

Setting Goals

Setting realistic goals can help you stay motivated and focused during your long distance swim. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Visualization Techniques

Visualization techniques can help you mentally prepare for your swim and overcome any fears or anxieties. Visualize yourself successfully completing the swim, and focus on positive outcomes.

Managing Fear and Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are common emotions experienced by long distance swimmers. It is important to manage these emotions by practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

Building Stronger Strokes

Key takeaway: To improve your long distance swimming technique, focus on proper preparation, including physical and mental preparation, as well as mastering the different swimming strokes, such as the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle stroke. Additionally, consider using swim aids, such as pull buoys, to improve your technique and endurance. Remember to avoid common mistakes, such as dropping your head to look at the bottom of the pool, over-rotating hips, and relying too heavily on arm power. Finally, stay hydrated and practice relaxation techniques to manage fatigue.

Butterfly Stroke


The butterfly stroke is a challenging and technically demanding swimming stroke that requires coordination, strength, and endurance. To execute the butterfly stroke correctly, the swimmer must complete the following key elements:

  1. Body Position: The swimmer should enter the water with their arms stretched out to the side and their legs together.
  2. Kick: The swimmer should kick their legs in a flutter-like motion, alternating between a downward and upward movement.
  3. Arm Movement: The swimmer should bring their arms forward and underwater, bending their elbows and bringing their hands to their thighs. They should then press their hands against the water and pull them towards their hips.
  4. Rotation: The swimmer should rotate their hips and torso as they complete each arm stroke, rolling onto their back for the recovery phase.
Key Elements of the Butterfly Stroke

To master the butterfly stroke, the swimmer must focus on the following key elements:

  1. Body Position: The swimmer must maintain a streamlined body position throughout the stroke to reduce drag and maximize speed.
  2. Arm Movement: The swimmer must use a propulsive arm movement to generate power and speed.
  3. Coordination: The swimmer must coordinate their arm and leg movements to maintain a smooth and efficient stroke.
Common Mistakes to Avoid

Some common mistakes to avoid when swimming the butterfly stroke include:

  1. Sinking: The swimmer should avoid sinking to the bottom of the pool during the stroke.
  2. Leg Movement: The swimmer should avoid using a flutter kick that is too wide or too narrow.
  3. Breathing: The swimmer should avoid holding their breath or taking quick, shallow breaths.
Drills to Improve Butterfly Stroke

To improve the butterfly stroke, the swimmer can practice the following drills:

  1. Sculling: The swimmer can practice sculling, using a whistle or paddles to improve their arm and hand movement.
  2. Body Position: The swimmer can practice maintaining a streamlined body position while kicking and pulling through the water.
  3. Rotation: The swimmer can practice rotating their hips and torso while swimming the stroke.


Efficient breathing is essential for swimming the butterfly stroke. The swimmer should focus on the following tips for efficient breathing:

  1. Breathing Pattern: The swimmer should establish a consistent breathing pattern, taking breaths every three to five strokes.
  2. Breathing Technique: The swimmer should exhale forcefully through their mouth as they submerge their face during the stroke.
  3. Coordinating Breathing with Stroke: The swimmer should time their breaths to coincide with the recovery phase of the stroke.
  4. Dealing with Fatigue: The swimmer should practice breathing techniques to manage fatigue, such as taking deep breaths or breathing through their nose.


The backstroke is one of the most challenging swimming strokes to master, but with the right technique, it can be an efficient and powerful stroke. To start, begin by lying on your back and extending your arms forward, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your arms should move in a circular motion, with your palms facing down and your elbows close to your body. As you bring your arms back to your chest, your head should remain in line with your spine, and your legs should kick in a flutter-like motion.

Key Elements of the Backstroke

The key elements of the backstroke include a strong kick, proper arm movement, and efficient breathing. To master these elements, it’s important to focus on the technique and to practice regularly.

Some common mistakes to avoid when swimming backstroke include dropping your head to look at the bottom of the pool, not kicking hard enough, and using too much upper body movement. These mistakes can lead to inefficiency and fatigue, making it harder to swim long distances.

Drills to Improve Backstroke

To improve your backstroke technique, try swimming with a pull buoy between your thighs to isolate your leg muscles and focus on the kick. You can also try swimming with a snorkel to focus on your breathing and arm movement. Additionally, try swimming with a band around your upper arms to limit your upper body movement and force your arms to move in a circular motion. These drills can help you develop the muscle memory and technique needed to swim the backstroke efficiently.

Overall, mastering the backstroke takes time and practice, but with focus on technique and regular training, you can improve your long distance swimming ability.


Breaststroke is one of the most popular swimming styles and is known for its unique flutter kick. To improve your breaststroke technique, focus on the following key elements:

  • Body Position: Start in the water with your body straight and your arms and legs extended.
  • Kick: Perform a flutter kick by lifting your legs up and back and then whipping them forward, creating a windmill motion.
  • Arm Movement: Bring your arms forward and out of the water, then sweep them back and down, passing the midline of your body.
  • Coordination: Ensure that your kick and arm movements are coordinated and timed correctly, with the arms moving through the water at the same time as the legs.
Key Elements of the Breaststroke
  • Body Position: Keep your body straight and aligned with the surface of the water.
  • Kick: Perform a flutter kick with a windmill motion.
  • Coordination: Ensure that your kick and arm movements are coordinated and timed correctly.

  • Lifting the head too high: Keep your head in line with your spine and avoid lifting it too high.

  • Over-rotating hips: Focus on maintaining a level body position and avoid over-rotating your hips.
  • Incorrect arm movement: Ensure that your arms move through the water at the same time as your legs and avoid bending your elbows too much.
Drills to Improve Breaststroke
  • Sculling: Use sculling drills to improve the coordination between your arm and leg movements.
  • Flutter kick: Practice flutter kicks to improve the strength and technique of your leg movements.
  • Timing: Work on coordinating your arm and leg movements and timing them correctly.
Tips for Efficient Breathing
  • Breathe every 2-3 strokes: Breathe every 2-3 strokes to maintain a steady rhythm and avoid hyperventilation.
  • Exhale underwater: Exhale underwater to maintain buoyancy and reduce resistance.
  • Rotate your head: Rotate your head to one side to breathe, instead of lifting it up out of the water.
Coordinating Breathing with Stroke
  • Time your breaths: Coordinate your breaths with your strokes, breathing every 2-3 strokes.
  • Use your peripheral vision: Use your peripheral vision to maintain awareness of your surroundings while swimming.
  • Focus on the water: Focus on the water and your hand movements to avoid tilting your head too far back.
Dealing with Fatigue
  • Relax your body: Relax your body and avoid tensing up, which can cause fatigue.
  • Focus on technique: Focus on maintaining good technique and form, even as you tire.
  • Take breaks: Take breaks if needed, to avoid exhaustion and maintain a consistent pace.

Freestyle Stroke

The freestyle stroke, also known as the front crawl, is widely considered the fastest and most efficient swimming stroke. It involves alternating movements of the arms and legs to create a rhythmic, propulsive motion through the water.

Key Elements of the Freestyle Stroke

The key elements of the freestyle stroke include:

  1. A 6-beat cycle for each arm: This means that each arm completes 6 strokes for every 10 seconds, with a recovery phase between each stroke.
  2. Body position: Keep your head in line with your spine, with your face looking towards the bottom of the pool.
  3. Coordinated movements: The arms and legs should move in a coordinated manner, with the legs kicking and the arms pulling simultaneously.
  4. Balance: Maintain a strong core and proper body alignment to ensure balance and stability in the water.

Common mistakes to avoid when swimming the freestyle stroke include:

  1. Rushing the arm stroke: Many swimmers tend to rush the arm stroke, resulting in a choppy, inefficient movement.
  2. Incorrect body position: Poor body position can lead to increased drag and decreased efficiency.
  3. Over-emphasizing arm power: Relying too heavily on arm power can cause an imbalance in the stroke and lead to fatigue.
Drills to Improve Freestyle Stroke

Drills can help improve the freestyle stroke by focusing on specific aspects of the technique. Some common drills include:

  1. 25-meter baseline: This drill focuses on maintaining a consistent tempo and stroke count.
  2. One-arm drill: This drill helps to improve coordination and balance, as well as promoting proper rotation of the body.
  3. Kicking drill: This drill helps to improve leg strength and coordination, which is essential for maintaining speed over long distances.

Efficient breathing is crucial for long-distance swimming, as it helps to maintain a steady rhythm and reduce fatigue. Some tips for efficient breathing include:

  1. Breathe every 3-5 strokes: This helps to maintain a consistent rhythm and avoid running out of breath.
  2. Breathe bilaterally: Breathing through both nostrils can help to ensure proper oxygenation of the body.
  3. Avoid holding your breath: Holding your breath can cause fatigue and reduce efficiency.

Coordinating breathing with the stroke can help to maintain a steady rhythm and avoid disrupting the flow of the stroke. Some tips for coordinating breathing with the stroke include:

  1. Exhale underwater: Exhale underwater to reduce drag and improve efficiency.
  2. Inhale at the surface: Inhale when your face is above the water, taking in a full breath before submerging again.

Dealing with fatigue is a crucial aspect of long-distance swimming, as it can easily lead to exhaustion and decreased performance. Some tips for dealing with fatigue include:

  1. Rest periods: Take regular rest periods to allow the body to recover and recharge.
  2. Maintain proper technique: Proper technique can help to reduce fatigue and prevent injury.
  3. Hydration: Staying hydrated can help to maintain energy levels and prevent fatigue.

Optimizing Your Swimming Technique

Using Swim Aids

Pull Buoys

How to Use a Pull Buoy

A pull buoy is a swim aid that is designed to be placed between the thighs, keeping the legs afloat while allowing the swimmer to focus on their arm movements. To use a pull buoy, follow these steps:

  1. Adjust the buoyancy of the pull buoy to suit your body weight. A lighter buoyancy will allow you to float higher in the water, while a heavier buoyancy will keep you lower in the water.
  2. Place the pull buoy between your thighs, ensuring that it is securely held in place.
  3. Kick your legs slightly to move the pull buoy into position, so that it is sitting between your thighs.
  4. Begin swimming with your arms, focusing on your technique and maintaining a steady rhythm.
Benefits of Using a Pull Buoy

Using a pull buoy can provide several benefits for long distance swimmers, including:

  • Allowing the swimmer to focus on their arm movements and technique without the resistance of the legs.
  • Helping to improve body position and alignment in the water.
  • Reducing the risk of cramping or fatigue in the legs during long distance swims.
Tips for Using a Pull Buoy

When using a pull buoy, it’s important to remember the following tips:

  • Keep your legs together and your knees bent to maintain a stable position in the water.
  • Don’t let the pull buoy drift away from your thighs, as this can cause imbalances in your body position.
  • Focus on maintaining a steady rhythm and consistent technique with your arms.

Some common mistakes to avoid when using a pull buoy include:

  • Allowing the pull buoy to move too far away from your thighs, which can cause imbalances in your body position.
  • Letting your legs drop too low in the water, which can lead to cramping and fatigue.
  • Neglecting your leg muscles and not incorporating them into your swimming technique.
Exercises with Pull Buoy

Swimming with a pull buoy can be a great way to improve your swimming technique and endurance. Here are some exercises to try:

  • 50m sprints with a pull buoy: Swim 50m as fast as you can, focusing on maintaining good technique and a strong kick. Rest for 10-15 seconds before repeating.
  • 100m drills with a pull buoy: Swim 100m with a focus on technique, using a pull buoy to support your legs. Repeat for 3-4 sets.
  • Long distance swims with a pull buoy: Swim for longer distances with a pull buoy, focusing on maintaining good technique and a steady rhythm.
Swimming with Pull Buoy Drills

Here are some specific drills to try when swimming with a pull buoy:

  • Sculling drills: Use a pull buoy to support your legs while you focus on sculling your arms and rotating your body.
  • Balance drills: Swim with a pull buoy while focusing on maintaining good body position and balance in the water.
  • Breathing drills: Swim with a pull buoy while focusing on your breathing and maintaining a steady rhythm.
Using Pull Buoy in Long Distance Swimming

When using a pull buoy in long distance swimming, it’s important to remember the following tips:

  • Start slowly and gradually increase your speed and distance over time.
  • Focus on maintaining good technique and a steady rhythm.
  • Rest and hydrate regularly during long distance swims.
Types of Pull Buoys

There are several types of pull buoys available, including:

  • F foam pull buoys: These pull buoys are made of foam and are designed to be lightweight and easy to use.
  • Mesh pull buoys: These pull buoys are made of mesh and are designed to be durable and comfortable.
  • Neoprene pull buoys: These pull buoys are made of neoprene and are designed to be warm and comfortable.
Choosing the Right Pull Buoy

When choosing a pull buoy, consider the following factors:

  • Your body weight and

Swimming with a Snorkel


1. What are the benefits of swimming long distance?

Swimming long distance has many benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle endurance, and improved mental focus. It also provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints, making it a great option for people of all ages and fitness levels.

2. What are the key elements of a good swimming technique for long distance swimming?

A good swimming technique for long distance swimming includes several key elements, such as proper breathing, efficient stroke mechanics, and maintaining a consistent pace. Additionally, it’s important to focus on body positioning and alignment, as well as developing a strong kick and using proper turn techniques.

3. How can I improve my swimming technique for long distance swimming?

Improving your swimming technique for long distance swimming requires consistent practice and repetition. Start by focusing on one aspect of your technique at a time, such as breathing or stroke mechanics, and practice it regularly. You can also work with a coach or attend a swimming clinic to receive personalized feedback and guidance. Additionally, incorporating strength training exercises that target the muscles used in swimming can help improve your overall technique and endurance.

4. What are some common mistakes to avoid when swimming long distance?

Common mistakes to avoid when swimming long distance include poor body positioning, uneven stroke counts, and inconsistent breathing patterns. It’s also important to avoid overtraining and to listen to your body, as swimming long distance can be physically demanding. Finally, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and stay focused on your goals, as mental fatigue can be just as challenging as physical fatigue.

5. How can I train for a long distance swim?

Training for a long distance swim requires a combination of both endurance and speed training. Start by building up your mileage gradually, and incorporate regular interval training to improve your speed and efficiency. Additionally, incorporating cross-training activities such as cycling or running can help improve your overall fitness and reduce the risk of injury. Finally, be sure to incorporate rest and recovery days into your training schedule to allow your body time to adapt and repair.

How to Pace for Long Distance Swims

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *