Swimming Technique Part Two: 3 Ways To Improve Speed (Backstroke Edition)

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Swimming Technique Part Two: 3 Ways To Improve Speed (Backstroke Edition)

Swimming Technique Part Two: 3 Ways To Improve Speed (Backstroke Edition)

Welcome back to Kiefer’s speed improvement series. We started last week with butterfly moving on to backstroke. Getting faster now.

There is almost always something you can do today to feel and be faster in the water. For those of you after quick results here you go!

Swimming Technique Improve Backstroke Speed1. Transition

Much like in butterfly, accelerating into your breakout is a huge step in feeling and being faster right off the bat. However I would like to advise you to take this one step further.

Yes please continue to work those underwater dolphin kicks, and yes please try to make them snappier as you get ready for your first stroke, but here’s a little something extra to think about. Transition. From your last dolphin kick to your first flutter might you perhaps pause? Is there a lag between the two? Eliminate this. Work on powering through releasing a thunderous flutter kick to rev up your arms.

2. Throw down

When you take your first cycle (in backstroke 2 strokes equals one cycle) make it your fastest. Why? When you are racing your tempo is likely to only get slower the further you get into your race. Fatigue happens. So set your standards high and let them carry through. We talked about tempo last week in butterfly.

So for simplicity sake let’s say you are racing a 100 backstroke, most elite backstrokers race at 1.0 and faster. If you breakout from your underwaters and your first cycles is a leisurely 1.5 what are your chances for a successful swim? Set yourself up for success. Every time. Long term speed improvement from backstroke is fueled by a dedication to tempo training. It may be redundant, especially after last week, but this is true for all strokes.

3. Tempo train

Let’s begin with a cycle, because a backstroke cycle is not the same as a butterfly cycle.

Two strokes equal one cycle. Say you begin with your right arm, when you right hand hits the water that would be a one count, when your left hand hits the water that would be your two count. We are still counting one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Are you singing it in your sleep yet? 2.0 tempo would be your right hand hitting in one second and your left hand hitting on the two second. Voila! 2.0 tempo.

Find your speed today and work it down to your goal. I hope you will join us next week for a look at breaststroke! Please let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

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About Emily Milak

Emily Milak is a lifetime competitive swimmer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. Emily is a US National Team champion, NCAA champion, and USMS champion with extensive coaching experience. She is a product development consultant at Kiefer.

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I've been a swimmer my whole life. My parents started me with lessons as a three year old and by five I had joined my first team. I started swimming year round at eight and by thirteen I was qualified for Junior Nationals. By fifteen I was a member of the US National Junior Team (National 'B' Team) and a Senior National Qualifier. I attened my first Olympic Trials in 2000 and finished third in the 200 butterfly. I am a US National Champion, three time NCAA Champion, NCAA record holder, and was a memeber of the US National 'A' Team for five years. I've competed in two World Championships, two Duel in the Pools, a Pan Pacific Championship where I earned a bronze medal in the 200 fly, and competitor in the Goodwill Games. I love to swim and love to coach. I have been working with 12 & Unders for the past ten years including a lengthy stint as the head age group coach in Houston, TX with the toughest bunch of little swimmers I have ever had the privilege of working with. Now I am a mom who swims! I substitute coach and swim master's. I have only competed at one Master's Nationals but walked away a two time champion.

2 Comments
  • Macy M. Wilson says:

    I really hope this works! I have swim practice tomorrow and I am hoping to drop 2 seconds on my backstroke. There has been a record for several years that I am trying to beat. I just need to drop 2 seconds to complete that goal. I just turned 12 in May and I have big dreams to accomplish!
    -Macy Wilson

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