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Build Better Swimming Endurance With Better Body Position

What you do with your head when you’re swimming is going to determine how much endurance you have in the water.

The position of your head while you swim has a major impact on your body position, and your body position determines your efficiency.

By optimizing your head position, you stand the best chance of developing the endurance you desire in the water.

Triathlons are endurance events.

You have to endure; you have to keep going.

When it comes to the swim, that can seem like an impossible take sometimes.

NOTHING is worse than completely bonking during the swim.

NOTHING is worse than being uncertain as to whether you’ll be able to finish the swim.

Just as importantly, NOTHING is worse than feeling like you’re working WAY too hard to swim WAY to slow.

As I talked about in my last article, crushing fatigue isn’t always the result of poor or insufficient training.

It’s typically the result of poor skills.

More specifically, it’s the result of poor body position.

Last time, I showed you how to improve your body position with several exercises.

This time, I’m going to show you how to improve your body position, specifically while swimming freestyle.

It’s all about the head.

Poor body position is often the result of poor head position while you’re swimming.

Conversely, great body position comes from great head position.

Here’s why.

Your body is kind of like a seesaw.

As your lungs hold you up in the water, they act like the fulcrum.

One side of the fulcrum, you’ve got your hips and the other side you have your head.

Which one do you think is heavier?

As a result, which one do you think is going to naturally sink lower in the water?

That’s right, the hips and feet.

Remember the goal is to move through the water in a straight line.

To do so, you need that seesaw to be balanced, with everything in line.

So, you have to find a way to keep the hips and feet up.

How do you do that?

You learn to press down on the OTHER side of the seesaw- the head and chest.

This is a skill that is particularly important to me, because it’s one that I struggled with for a long time.

The sad part is that I didn’t even KNOW I struggled with it.

I want to help you avoid the same experience I had.

For most of my swimming journey, my head wasn’t in the game- it was out of position and slowing me down.

Because my head was out of position, especially when I was breathing, it was really difficult to find the sense of rhythm, flow, and SUSTAINABILITY, that I’d always been pursuing.

I still remember the day when I finally figured out how to get my head in the right position and keep it there.

It was like everything just clicked.

Once I felt it, I never went back, and it changed my swimming forever.

It was an AWESOME feeling and one I hope you can experience.

I’m going to show you exactly what you need to do to make it happen.

Just remember, where the head goes, the body follows.

If you want to go straight through the water as quickly and easily as possible, the head needs to point the way.

Let’s get better.

Here’s your simple solution for better head position.

1. Find YOUR Best Head Position

The best head position for YOU, is the position that allows the hips to come up in the water, or for you to ride smoothly through the water in a great line.

How do you find it?

Unfortunately, there’s not a perfect head position that I can tell you to implement.

Something like ‘keep the line of the water at your hairline’ or ‘look straight down’ or ‘look at a 45 degree angle’ might work for you.

But that’s a cookie cutter approach, and even if it ‘works’, it might not be BEST.

The reality is that everyone comes in different shapes and sizes.

The seesaw we talked about earlier is going to be of different lengths and the there’s going to be different amount of weight on the end of it.

Now, hope is not lost.

Just because I can’t TELL you what to do, doesn’t mean I can’t SHOW you how to make it happen.

Here’s what you do.

You’re going explore the WHOLE spectrum of head positions, from really high to really low.

And you can go from low to high.

You can do it with a slow elevator or a fast elevator.

By exploring ALL of the options, you’re most likely to find the BEST option.

It might not happen right away, but sooner than later, you’re going to find the head position that works best for you.

How do you know when you find it?

Your hips and legs will feel light in the water AND you’ll feel like your head is slicing through the water.

Push the head too deep and the legs might feel light, but the head is plowing through the water.

Don’t push enough and the legs are going to be dragging.

The goal is to find the happy balance for YOU.

If you’re looking for ideas about to implement this exercise, give the set below a shot.

Just explore the different variations and aim to get closer to the answer for you.

It might take a few tries on different days, but that’s WELL worth the effort that better body position brings.

For more on the importance of head position, check out this article from 220 Triathlon.

2. Navigate The Breath

Now once you’ve figured out how to get the head in the right position for you, there’s one more task you have to navigate to successfully manage your body position.

Sadly, you need to breathe.

Swimming would be a LOT easier to if you didn’t have to.

What’s the problem?

The problem is that the breath tends to disrupt head position, which disrupts body position, which is going to make swimming more difficult.

Of course, you can’t just keep your head in the water.

You don’t have gills.

So, you have to figure out how to breathe by lifting the head as little as possible, and without moving the head to the side.

You have to ROTATE to the breath.

It’s like your head is rotisserie chicken and you need to make sure the whole thing is extra crispy.

That can be a tough skill to feel or figure out on your own.

Here’s how to practice it.

The key is to keep the head STILL and just rotate to the breath.

It’s definitely an exaggeration, but it helps keep the head STILL.

And that’s what you need to practice.

The biggest mistake in freestyle breathing is lifting the head to breathe, and this exercise shows you a different option for breathing.


Now, once you’ve got the feeling from the drill, you need to practice executing the skill while swimming.

Just doing it while swimming and creating the same rotation feeling, although a lot smaller, is the first step.

To make it bulletproof, you need to take it up a notch.

Enter Paddle Cap Freestyle.

Here’s the deal, you pretty much can’t do this exercise right and breathe wrong.

That means great body position.

Now, it’s difficult to do a first, perhaps maddeningly difficult.

While it can be frustrating, that’s just showing you that you have the opportunity to improve.

Be consistent and just try to get ONE breath.

If you can do it ONCE, you can do it an unlimited number of times.

Once you can, you body position is going to be rock solid.

Give the set below a try.

If you need to adjust the distance of the paddle cap freestyle to just 1-2 breaths, do it.

You’ll get the same benefit.

Hide the breath, rotate to air, and get better.

For more on improving your breathing, check out this article I wrote for 220 Triathlon.

By, now, you should have a solid understanding of how to improve your body position by improving your head position.

Start working on it today to ensure that your body position is rock solid, and you’ll find that premature fatigue is a thing of the past.

Keep it simple...



When you're ready to accelerate your progress, check out Fix Your Freestyle FAST .

Take your swimming to the next level with world class insight into exactly what you need to do to improve your freestyle, and everything you need to make it happen.

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