1/15/05 Streamlining While Swimming
Text and Photo/Video by Glenn Mills
Demonstrated by Amanda Beard

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The most basic skill in swimming is the ability to STREAMLINE – to push off the wall in the most hydrodynamic position possible, in order to maintain as much speed as possible. Streamlining is the one thing that makes sense to every swimmer. It’s one of the simplest skills to teach in swimming, and one of the first things taught to every competitive swimmer.

“STREAMLINE” is a word that coaches say over and over and over again. That’s because, from on deck, they can see the difference between swimmers who streamline…and those who don’t. They’re just trying to convince you of what they know. Coaches can clearly see that streamlining is productive, and that it is absolutely essential to fast swimming.

Most swimmers know what good streamlining looks like off the walls. Generally it means that hands are clasped somehow, and arms are squeezed against the head. But when it comes to streamlining while actually SWIMMING, the debate about “perfect” streamline position is still wide open.

Take breaststroke, for example. If try to get back into a streamline position at the front of each stroke, you may create too rigid of a bodyline to allow the flow of the stroke to occur. This is especially true if you’ve got a nice “wave” style of breaststroke.

Let’s look at one example. Amanda Beard, as shown in these photos, doesn’t always get back to what would be considered the “perfect” streamline position after each stroke. Amanda is known for her dynamic body movement in breaststroke, and she has found that separating her arms slightly during the glide allows her to move more freely in setting up for her next stroke.

If you look at Amanda from the side, you’ll see that streamline isn’t just about the hands being together out front. It’s also about having a long bodyline during the glide phase in breaststroke. Here, we can see just how stunning this line is on Amanda.
Work closely with your coach on this one. In terms of hand position out front, there is a very fine line between streamline…and plowing through the water. Even though her hands are apart, Amanda is still very careful to keep them inside her shoulders. And even though her separated hands create some additional resistance, she is able to compensate for that with greater freedom of movement.

Hey, we never said trade-offs are easy. It takes a lot of work!