January 22, 2018

Triathlon Swim Series, Part 2: Body Position

Last week I wrote about the importance of “feeling” the water and being conscious about what your body is doing while you’re swimming. If you approach your swims with this approach you can all but eliminate the swim drills you’re currently doing.

This week we’ll cover body position.

The position of your body is crucial to a good swim stroke because the power you achieve starts with your body, not your arms. Similar to a good golf swing, your body should rotate gently from side-to-side to generate inertia to your arms.

The mental image I talk about with my athletes is think about sitting in a canoe in the middle of a calm lake. Hold on to the sides of the canoe and gently rock it from side-to-side. This is precisely what your body should be doing – gently rocking from side-to-side, as you swim.

The question is, “how is the rocking created?” It’s actually not created by your hands pressing through the water it happens naturally as you “reach” with your hands to catch the water.

Many swim coaches talk about “making your boat longer.” What they’re saying is proper position in the water when swimming freestyle is about really stretching your arms and body as much as possible when you swim. Think of it this way: imagine a normal swim stroke. Then, imagine another swim stroke but this time your normal stroke would leave you six inches short of the wall. That extra “reach” will allow you to touch the wall without taking another stroke with your other arm.

That’s the proper “feeling” your stroke should have. But wait a minute; I thought we were talking about body position, not the stroke. Exactly! A proper reach will automatically rotate your body – you can’t help it!

Photo: Courtesy of Tri Swim Coach

That’s the beauty of proper swim form – it happens naturally – you don’t have to force anything. See if I’m right about this. The more you reach, or stretch, with your arm the more your body will rotate.

The trick is to do this on both sides. For those of us that unilaterally breathe (breathe to just one side) is to get a proper extension on both sides. The answer is simple and obvious: you need to really stretch out on both sides and your body will automatically rotate as you need it to.

Nothing about the proper swim stroke should be forced. It will all happen naturally if you let it.

All this week, during your swim workouts, concentrate on reaching for the wall on every stroke and be conscious of your body position, and you’ll swim faster!


Ron Saetermoe


Discover the secrets to improving your swim technique, avoiding painful injuries, and shaving minutes off your best triathlon times to date! Are You Ready To Make A Change In Your Athletic Life?

Post to Twitter


  1. Jennifer says:

    Ron I am loving you Triathlon swim series I stumbled on while doing a google search. Mentally and Technique wise this will really help me for my first Triathlon sprint I am doing in Hayden this weekend. Thanks so much!

Speak Your Mind