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If you’ve ever watched the pros swimming, you’ll notice the fastest are getting the greatest distance per stroke. For triathletes, maximizing your stroke is key for succeeding in long distance swimming. Here are the top five tips for gaining an edge by adding more distance to each stroke.

1. Strokes per breath

The number one step you can start taking in your pool workouts is to increase the number of strokes you take between each breath. The less you have to turn your head to breathe, the further you can propel yourself forward with your stroke. Try to breathe every five strokes, or if you like to keep your breathing side consistent (many do) aim for four or even six if you can. This will make you more hydrodynamic and help you stay smooth and strong in the water.

2. Posture

Your posture in the water is important, though easily looked over. Focus on staying streamlined by keeping your head down and hips up. You can remember this as you swim by eyeing the black line running down your lane.

3. Reach and pull

Your reach refers to the moment your finger tips hit the water as you’re about to take a new stroke. Aim to reach as far as possible by practicing catch-up drill where you touch the opposite hand’s finger tips as you start your stroke. As you pull your stroke down, touch your thigh before recovery. These two “check points” ensure you’ve maximized your length.

4. Consistent kicking

Yes, your kicking does affect your stroke! So many of us forget to keep small, consistent kicks as we swim but in doing so, you’ll decrease wasted energy, you’ll help yourself stay streamlined and you’ll even help propel yourself forward (even if just a small amount). To get used to consistent kicks, practice some kick sets in your swim workouts. We offer some great kick sets like this one in our weekly “Workout Wednesday” stories.

ThinkstockPhotos-831116495. Add paddles

Using paddles (under the guidance of a coach or someone who knows you as a swimmer) can produce great results in creating a stronger stroke. Paddles are not for anyone with shoulder injuries and should be incorporated into your swimming slowly. Start with the smallest available and use these guidelines.