With the Olympic swimming having now finished, we saw legendary performances in the pool from Ariarne Titmus and Emma McKeon and the best gold medal haul ever by an Australian Swimming Team. Their amazing results were the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to their craft, both in and out of the water. Let’s take a closer look at one important technical element of swimming that is the absolute key to unlocking peak performance.
Hard work in the pool is all for nothing without ensuring elite swimmers’ bodies are in pristine condition. If a swimmer is unable to reach and maintain streamline, they will lose precious seconds, which can be the difference between a gold and silver medal (just ask Kyle Chalmers!).
So, what is streamline?
Streamline is the positioning of your body to ensure the least amount of resistance in the water. It is the key foundation of mastering a given stroke as maintaining streamline allows a swimmer to propel themselves forward as quickly as possible with minimal drag. When we lose this position, we are increasing the surface area pushing against the water, meaning we require more energy to maintain or increase speed. Not only is this an easy way to lose time and perform poorly, but it also leads to injuries such as rotator cuff tendon overloads.
The image above shows the ideal body position in streamline when swimming. This involves the combination of muscle strength and flexibility to allow us to hold this position in the water. If we have weak or tight muscles that hinder our ability to hold all four of the points in the picture, we will lose streamline. Common issues include having tight hip flexors or lat muscles and having weak trunk muscles.
How do you improve your streamline? The image to the left highlights the areas of need to do so. If even one of these five parts of the body is lacking, swimmers are putting themselves in a position to work harder.
By performing regular stretching and mobility exercises is vital to becoming an elite swimmer. Stretches need to be performed at least three times a day and mobility exercises both pre and post training are needed to keep your body in prime condition to perform in the pool
There are a number of stretches and exercises that can be performed in order to allow your body to create the perfect streamline. Regardless of the number of sessions you train per week, whether it be two or twelve, having a regimented mobility program will allow you to unlock your own swimming cheat code and create the perfect streamline to start shaving time off your personal best. Below are two examples to try over the coming weeks as you continue your training towards Paris 2024 and beyond!
At RHP Physiotherapy, we regularly perform screenings for swimmers in the elite pathways programs for Swimming Australia and work closely with St Peters Western Swimming Club. Our screenings are designed to identify the flexibility and strength deficits that may be hindering the performance of athletes and weekend warriors alike. If you’d like to take your swimming to the next level, contact RHP today and experience the difference!