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Is fitness more important than technique for new swimmers?

Front crawl is 80% technique so that that pretty much answers the question, but it's not always as simple as that. Sometimes it is also important to focus on leg kicking fitness and instill good habits that become ingrained better into muscle memory.

For beginners and improvers, they may be best off starting with shorter interval sets of 25 to 50 metres swimming front crawl in one go. This is to maintain technique and form before it breaks down.

However, we like to add in some breast stroke and back crawl swimming in between these intervals to help build stamina and lung capacity which will help with their front crawl swimming later in their progression to swimming longer distances such as 200 - 400 metres and beyond. For example, 50m front crawl drills followed by 50m breast stroke then rest for 30-60 seconds.

What do we mean by fitness for swimming? There are quite a few types:

  • Endurance

  • Muscular strength

  • Force

  • Anaerobic fitness

  • Power and speed

All your elements of fitness and speed can come later, once you have focused on improving your technique. This isn't to say totally stop doing pacing work and interval sets, just remember to work on technique in every session as this will help you to reduce your stroke count, increase distance per stroke and improve your swim efficiency for longer term gains.

Think perfect practice every time and then the efficiency gains will come along. Aim to learn how to use the water more effectively.

Your swimming progression needs to be in the following order, although you should always have a focus on maintaining and improving your technique throughout the training year and in different phases of training blocks. This means its best to reduce the power in the stroke when you’re learning and develop the techniques needed which can then add load, intensity then speed in once you can maintain the ideal technique.

  1. Technique

  2. Load

  3. Intensity

  4. Speed

Also, when we learn a new skill or technique we will undoubtably go through the following 4 phases:

  1. Unconsciously incompetent (unaware) - pre-video analysis - you simply were not 100% sure or aware what you needed to focus on to improve

  2. Consciously incompetent (uncomfortable) - you understand the faults and the corrections needed in your swim stroke

  3. Consciously competent (mechanical) - you know understand and feel that you know what you're doing, and how it has improved

  4. Unconsciously competent (natural) - it feels natural and you probably couldn't explain how you're doing it now.

Our bodies on a neuro muscular level (nerve connection from your brain to muscles) can take up to 6-8 weeks to learn a new skill or movement pattern, so practicing as perfectly as you can in the short term is the best way to improve your technique!

So, remember to focus on one thing at a time, and keep the intensity to about 70% whilst performing your swim drills, as your mind and body will learn these new movement patterns easier and better and be able to instil and ingrain them more effectively in the long term.

Learn how to correct your stroke and swim faster than ever with less energy!

We can help you improve your technique using video camera analysis, stroke correction and swim drills in the endless pool. Based in Chertsey Surrey.

Sign up to an endless pool 121 video analysis session and find out what’s been holding you back with your swim stroke.

If you have a swim technique problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Speedy Swimming Team!

Get in touch by giving us a call on 07958635142 or email us at

We offer

1. Front crawl coaching to a levels of swimmers, held at Guildford Lido in Surrey:

2. Front crawl video analysis in an endless pool at Tribal in Chertsey:

3. Swim squads for intermediates, held at Aldershot 50m indoor pool:

4. Online training plans for swimming and triathlons:

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