Throughout any swimming career, including mine, there may be different periods of time in which you feel most confident with a particular swimming stroke. This is due to the physical and mental changes someone may go through during their time swimming. It is often the case with many young swimmers that they will not specialise in a particular stroke. They may have their favourite stroke/s, but it is unlikely they can ‘connect’ with a just one. This is usually due to young swimmers not having the full understanding of technique and experience needed to excel and specialise in a particular stroke – to find the ‘perfect’ technique.
My Experience with swimming strokes
At a young age I was an all-rounder, not having a particular strong stroke. It wasn’t till the age of 13-14 where my progress in breaststroke accelerated. In the coming years, I was able to concentrate more on this stroke, focusing on it more in training and racing it more. Doing so allowed me to connect more with it resulting in progress and development of my technique. Moving through my teenage years into adulthood, where I am now, I grew taller and stronger. This is always crucial for any swimmer to get faster. However, like any swimmer, with my body going through changes my technique needed to be adjusted or be maintained to accompany this change. It is always difficult to find the ‘perfect’ technique.
Is there a ‘perfect’ stroke?
It can be said to find the ‘perfect’ technique is simply impossible. The ideal or perfect technique varies with different individuals, if there is such thing as the perfect technique. In my personal opinion, with each stroke it is difficult to find two individuals with the exact same technique/stroke. This is more accurate in butterfly and especially breaststroke. This can even be said for world class swimmers including world champions. For anyone to get faster, technique needs to be worked or maintained. Most people would say world record holders have the ideal or ‘perfect’ technique. However, for them to get faster and push their boundaries, they work their bodies and their techniques to better themselves. At this level, it is minute changes in technique to enhance what is known as ‘feel for the water’. This is the most important aspect of technique and sometimes the hardest aspect to get.
Time away from the water can also affect your feel for the water and effectiveness of technique. Every summer I take at least 2 weeks off swimming to recover from the long season. When I get back in the water for preseason training at the start of September it takes me many weeks for to get the feel for the water in breaststroke back, in both my hand movement and kick. Weeks of preseason training creates a technique which I can connect and feel comfortable with again. As a result, my technique changes ever so slightly from season to season.
To Conclude: Practice makes (near perfect)
It takes many years of training and experience to find a stroke that you can completely connect with and find a technique which you can make craft for yourself. At one point in my young career, my main event was 200m backstroke, whereas it is now 200m breaststroke with backstroke being my worse stroke. It is difficult to say what is the ‘perfect’ technique is - I believe there is no such thing. As anyone including world class swimmers can always improve their technique to better themselves.
To keep up to date follow us on Instagram & Twitter @proswimwear and follow Adam Chillingworth at instagram: @adam_chillingworth!