Improving your Distance per Stroke part 2

In part 2 we discover that the main reasons why you should want to improve your distance per stroke (DPS) are:

1. Improved performance

2. Streamlining

3. Better efficiency in the water

4. Enhanced timing

The first question we should ask is: What is your distance per stroke?

This is basically what it says, i.e., how far you currently swim on each stroke. The more efficient your front crawl is, the less strokes you'll need to take for the same distance.

You can work this out simply by counting your strokes over a 25 metre pool. Then divide your strokes by the length of the pool. So for example, 25 strokes would obviously equal 1 metre per stroke.

The next question is: How do you know if your stroke is efficient?

For example, if a client swam above 30 strokes per 25 metres then we would say technically this could do with improving. At Speedy Swimming we have successfully dropped client strokes per length from in the 30's to mid 20's in a single session, and shown them how to hold it. Aim to swim 25 strokes or less in a 25 metre pool looking to get closer to 20 strokes. (This is without excess kicking or gliding or pushing off the wall)

Increasing your DPS is about how you use and apply the power you have in the stroke underwater as effectively as possible. This can be by improving your timing and rhythm, developing an early vertical forearm position, rotating better, kicking more from the hips with straight legs, to maintaining the pressure of your palm on the water from the catch to push phases.

These areas will help you to improve your distance per stroke and overall swim efficiency

Try this swolf swim set to test your swim efficiency and do a minimax set as below to check if your stroke count stays even or drifts after a certain distance. The minimax set is harder than you think. Explanations below:

Minimax = minimum strokes and maximum distance per stroke

Swolf = a combination of counting your strokes over 50 metres and timing the 50m, then adding the 2 together.

SWOLF Swim Efficiency test – (15 seconds rest on all)

50 FC counting strokes 50 FC stroke count minus 1 50 FC stroke count -2 50 Stroke count -2 but faster

Minimax swim set

All tempo effort swims @ 75% T pace with 30 secs recovery 100 FC Minimax 200 FC Minimax 400 FC Minimax


By focusing on your own personal swim corrections and techniques with swim drills on a structured plan. We can also help you to identify what you need to be working on and then how to perform and incorporate them exactly into your swim training week.

Get in touch to book a 5 week front crawl accelerator course with and a swim monthly coaching plan online using training peaks.

When your front crawl is more efficient from better stroke mechanics and technique you'll save energy to swim faster still. Gaining an extra 10 cm in your stroke length can equal a 60 second improvement over 1500 metres!

Gaining more Distance Per Stroke is the difference between one or more of the following examples:

· Catching the water too early by pulling your hand and arm too fast through the water

· Not rotating evenly or fast enough

· Crossing over the mid line of your body with your hand or arms

· Applying too much power too soon, or in the wrong way

· Your hand(s) not keeping a positive pitch with the water throughout the stroke i.e. your palms not staying facing the back of the pool whilst underwater

Increasing your DPS is about how you use and apply the power you have in the stroke underwater as effectively as possible. This can be by improve your timing and rhythm, developing an early vertical forearm position, rotating better, kicking more from the hips with straight legs, to maintaining the pressure of your palm on the water from the catch to push phases.

Improving your distance per stroke happens when you focus on one or more of the following 8 phases:

1. Breathing

2. Entry phase

3. Catch phase

4. Pull phase

5. Push phase

6. Recovery phase

7. Streamlining

8. Rotation

Over the next few weeks we're going to be writing blogs on each of the above phases of front crawl

Newtons third law of motion applies to water, and in this case to swimming more specifically.

"For every action (movement) there is an equal and opposite reaction" (movement). So if your arms or hands cross over the mid-line of your body, then you will either find your legs scissor kick to counter this motion, or your lower body snakes / fishtails in the the water, or you move laterally or corkscrew from side to side.

This is really noticeable and apparent when swimming in the endless pool. The current and flume really highlights any stroke in-inefficiencies and flaws that need to be corrected. This should be taken in a positive light of learning and improving your technique.

One of my favourite motivational sports films is "Any Given Sunday", featuring Al Pacino. In the final team talk before the last play (in American Football), Al Pacino's character says (which i'm going to relate to your future front crawl stroke and techniques)

"Life is a game of inches"

"The margin for error is so small, one half a step (hand) too late or too early, and you don't quite make it, one half second too slow or too fast, you don't quite catch it, the inches we need are everywhere around us!!" (Any Given Sunday film)

We have helped clients from all levels, from sprint, to Ironman triathlon distance and results have included dropping up to 20-30 seconds per average 100 metre sustainable race pace.

We call this "T pace" or threshold pace, which is your average 1500 metre race pace, with higher or lower variations on this depending on how far your goal or A race swim is.

Add more speed, power and stamina to your front crawl! Improve your technique, pacing, reduce your stroke count by up to 10%, and your stroke efficiency (SWOLF score)! Learn how to control your pacing, reduce drag, become more streamlined, build your fitness, and become a Speedier Swimmer!

We'll help you do the following and more:

  • Analysing and optimising your stroke rate

  • Achieve better balance in the water

  • Kicking less and more efficiently

  • Improving your body position

  • Help you find better rhythm and timing of your arm stroke

  • Reduce resistance and drag

  • Breathing technique and confidence

  • Even and rhythmical body roll

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 a series 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 video analysis in an endless pool at Tribal in Chertsey:

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

3. Online training plans for swimming and triathlons:

4. Swim Monthly Online Coaching Plans

Did you know you can receive all of the following monthly swim coaching from Speedy Swimming on Training Peaks?

1. Structured periodised swim sets for your goal race distance 2. Swim drills for each phase of front crawl 3. Tempo trainer based sessions 4. Personal pacing zones 5. Technique sessions to improve your efficiency 6. A Training Peaks account and app plus sessions via email

7. Swim golf and fitness benchmarking every 4 weeks

8. 2 - 4 swim sessions a week in Training Peaks

More info:

5. Swim video Analysis Clinic January 2019

Copyright © Speedy Swimming

Nick is a level 3 British Triathlon Coach, STA level 2 Swim Teacher, Level 1 Training Peaks coach, and Training Bible coaching Master endurance coach with 25 years’ experience in triathlon, founder and Head Coach for Speedy Swimming.

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