3 Drills to Help You Lengthen Your Stroke

How many strokes does it take you to swim across the pool? Have you ever counted? Do you take more strokes when you are fatigued? What about when you speed up or slow down?

If you’re taking too many strokes, you’re not going to be as efficient as you could be with better technique. If you’re taking too few, you might not have the speed you could have if you increased your tempo. Remember, swimming is all about going as fast as possible with the least amount of effort possible. Most people take more strokes when they are fatigued because their muscles are too tired to finish their strokes all the way. I find that when I’m tired is the best time for me to think about my stroke length.

You do not have to count every stroke you take, but it never hurts to count a lap here or there.

Here are three freestyle drills to help you lengthen your stroke:

  1. Finishing Drill. Finishing Drill is a really fun drill that helps you focus on an exaggerated finish. To do this drill, try to splash water at the ceiling every time your hand exits the water. To do the drill correctly, you will have no choice but to finish at your hips. If you try to exit the water early, you won’t be able to splash water up.


    Freestyle Finishing Drill

  2. DPS (distance per stroke). DPS is exactly what it sounds like. You should try to cover as much distance as possible with each arm cycle. Count your strokes on each 25 or 50. To make it a game, try to take one less stroke each lap.


    DPS (distance per stroke)

  3. 3/8/3. To do 3/8/3 drill, swim three full stroke cycles and then do 8 kicks on your side. The side kicking encourages you to rotate completely, which extends your reach. Both your hips and shoulders will rotate. When you’re on your side, one arm will be fully extended (not “crossing over” your midline) and the other should be dry. Try to keep that nice rotation during the regular stroke cycles in between each kick cycle. To mix it up, reduce the number of kicks between each full stroke cycle: 3/6/3, 3/4/3, etc.

    3/8/3 Drill

    Right now, it takes me about 14 strokes to get across the pool at a relaxed pace. I take more when I’m sprinting. If you’re looking for a game to play that will help you find the balance of length and speed, try GOLF.

    What drills do you use to help lengthen your stroke? There are many more!!!

Categories: Drills, Drills & Skills

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. Thanks for posting this! I’ve never done the 3/8/3 drill so I’m definitely going to add that to my drills. I’m working at lengthening my stroke but holy smokes is it ever hard. It takes me between 20-22 strokes to get across the pool.

    • Glad I can help! Let me know how you like 3/8/3 drill when you try it. You can always wear fins if you need a little extra help on the kicking. It is great that you know how many strokes it takes you to get across the pool – you’re way ahead of the curve just by tracking that! 20-22 is a lot for a 25 yard pool, but I have no doubt you can bring that down. Do you know where your issue is? Are you crossing over on your entry or finishing your stroke short? Another thing you can do is try using hand paddles to identify where you might have issues with hand entry/exit: http://waterbloggedtriathlete.com/2012/09/12/hand-paddles-hand-entry-exit/ I would spend some time at every water practice focusing on this issue. Maybe do 4 x 50s Golf right after your warm up and before your main set with plenty of rest so you can really focus on your times and stroke counts. Let me know how it goes!

  2. I’ve just bought (and started) the total immersion swimming DVD/book. Looking forward to trying out some of your drills once I get the swim technique sorted. I found their site after reading the kindle sample of your book. Will work my way up to 400m then I can launch into yours as well. 🙂 Thank you!

  3. Great timing: a swim friend just asked me what “GOLF” was and I didn’t know. I referred her to your blog!

  4. Great post. I printed a copy to bring to the pool next time and remind me to give these a try. I always think of myself as a strong swimmer, but I take too many strokes (18-22/25m length). I think my problem is that I don’t finish my stroke properly, nor do I get a full rotation. Looking forward to giving these a try and seeing how it goes!

    • Thanks! Those issues are definitely things that will make a big difference for you once you correct them! I like working on issues like that because it’s “free speed,” i.e. you don’t have to work that much harder to correct it so much as just pay attention. I hope you like trying these out and that they help you become more efficient!!! Report back to us~

  5. I have bookmarked this page for future reference. Thanks for the tips, I will try them out when I get more comfortable with swimming!


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