View Full Version : How to NOT Swim Crooked

November 29th, 2006, 11:12 AM
Hi everyone,

Since there is so much experience and expertise on this board, I thought I would open up a discussion about how to prevent people from swimming crooked. I know that many people new to swimming have this problem.

I'll go first.

I have found that most people swim crooked when they breathe. From observation, what happens is when they turn their head to breathe, the support arm (non-breathing arm) travels across their centerline toward the breathing side. Then, when the support arm goes to do the pull, the arm is not in alignment with the shoulder. It is too far past the centerline and catches and pulls water more from the other side of their body. Thus, they travel to the opposite side. Also, I have found that many people still close their eyes and sometimes aren't even aware of this.

I overcame the swimming crooked when it was pointed out to me. I also had the great privilege of swimming with Navy divers and they would blindfold us and we would swim 25s. We learned how to feel what body balance was; both sides of the body doing the same thing. And, it really didn't take that long to correct the swimming crooked.

Please share your thoughts on this subject.


November 29th, 2006, 11:37 AM
I don't have a solution but I do have a funny story.

I dived into the deep end the other day intent on swimming across in a straight line (with my instructor waiting for me on the other side).

There were three other people in there and I apparently (and unknowingly) chased them out of the pool by veering left and right.

I guess there was discussion on the deck: "He's going for Sally! No, he veered again, it's Melanie, move!"


November 29th, 2006, 11:50 AM
Donna it's funny how being blindfolded can cure a problem that people have because they swim with their eyes shut.

hehe I'm not pointing it out to be a wise-a$$ I think it highlights the use of the brain and being aware of how you swim...
I close my eyes when I am trying to consciously stretch while doing crawl (as I am working on my stroke) but that is for that "feel" you noted and it's very meditative too...

November 29th, 2006, 12:06 PM
Great topic, Donna. From my short experience.. here are a couple of things i focus on:

- keep the head straight down regardless of body roll. also, try to follow the vertical line (if there is one) or the tiles and focus on forward movement.
- power forward from rolling your hips, not the arms/shoulders. this way your body stays aligned and straight.
- Don't cross the center with your catching hand.
- Great drill i use all the time to improve streamline, technique and everything really: Swim with the body rotated 90 degrees to the side with one hand forward and the other on your side (the side arm is on top of the water), look forward or down and propel using your feet. switch sides/stroke/take a breather and assume alternate position.

November 29th, 2006, 02:39 PM

I do believe I use that drill a lot, swimming on the side with one arm extended and one at the side. I do it for about 10 to 20 kicks and then reverse sides and continue with it for about 100 yards. It has helped my brain to get accustomed to being on my side, even though it is exaggerated. Plus, it's good to flutter sidekick; I feel different muscles being used!!!

And, I am one of those swimmers who does not swim flat (low) like many others here that use TI. I prefer to swim on top of the water so I am usually looking about a yard ahead, not straight down. And, because I swim in the ocean only, no pools here, I have no pool line to follow so I must rely on body balance in order to swim straight, current or not. It is amazing what the body can accomplish if we listen to it. Swimming straight has been something I can just "do" regardless of ocean waves, etc.

Also, I might add that triathlete swimmers could really benefit from learning to feel and swim straight. Many times the reason I do so well in our triathlon swim down here is because I follow no one. I look at the buoy once and maybe miss it by a foot. Many of these swimmers follow the person in front of them and they are way off course. In my first triathlon down here, there was a group of 6 swimmers who just veered off to the right and I kept swimming straight. I didn't even have to pass them; their lack of navigation did them in :p

But your suggestions were truly great ones. I just hope that all of these suggestions can help those swimmers who have a problem with swimming crooked!!!


Jeff Commings
November 29th, 2006, 03:00 PM
This is all well and good, but how do you not swim backstroke crooked?

I'd pay top dollar to anyone who could teach me that.

November 29th, 2006, 03:16 PM
I'd also like to know how to breathe in backstroke. I end up gasping for air in back much more than any other stroke.

As for swimming straight if I'm outside I'm all over the place ... heck last year at a meet inside I think I hit both lane lines in the same length ... I tend to hit the left side mostly though which is good when circle swimming at least ...

November 29th, 2006, 07:33 PM
back stroke breathing...very simple.

exhale with one arm, inhale with the other.

or like me: exhale 2 arm stroke, inhale 2 strokes, etc.

it's just liek running. find a pattern thats comfortable with you and stick with it.

as far as swimming straigh on back - keep that head STILL. don't rotate it with your body. you go where your head goes. use the ceiling (if there is one) and the lane line in the corner of your eye to help you.

November 29th, 2006, 08:15 PM
Stussy96 has it down for the backstroke breathing. Many people find a breathing pattern using the arm strokes; one stroke breathe in, one stroke breathe out. But when it came to my swimming the 50, all bets were off because the stroke rate was too high. I just always breathe when I need air and somehow, over the years, it has all worked out.

Not swimming backstroke crooked may be a whole new pandora's box, but because this was my stroke for most of my life, I learned body balance and stroking the same on both sides. This did not develop overnight; it took practice just like anything else. Slow down and have patience; do some 25s and try to swim the same with each arm stroke and kick.

When learning to swim straight in backstroke, and because I was in indoor pools, I would look at the beams on the ceiling. In an outdoor pool, you really have to rely more on feel when stroking and making sure you finish the stroke on each side at the same place on the body.

For me, this whole not swimming crooked thing came down to the feel of body balance.


November 29th, 2006, 09:59 PM
To swim backstroke straight, I "cheat" by turning my head slightly to the left as my body rotates during every other left arm stroke. I can just see the lane rope with my peripheral vision, and as long as I don't tuck my chin, it doesn't mess up my balance. Not the ideal solution, but it works for me.

The Fortress
November 29th, 2006, 10:15 PM
As for swimming straight if I'm outside I'm all over the place ... heck last year at a meet inside I think I hit both lane lines in the same length ... I tend to hit the left side mostly though which is good when circle swimming at least ...

Swimming outside can be difficult. Keeping the head utterly still is good advice for outdoors. Look at the ceiling indoors to keep a straight line. This will also help keep your head back instead of propped up. You're more likely to go off course if you're breaking the streamline and swimming with your chin tucked in.

I sometimes drift to the left. I hate to say this, but it's because my left shoulder is weaker. Or, you may not be bending your left elbow under water enough.

November 29th, 2006, 11:38 PM
Inside I'm actually fine because I can follow the ceiling ... outside is a different story ... thanks for all the tips though ... I actually know about the breathing (or at least have been told before to breathe in on one stroke and out on the next) I just find that I am much more out of breath during back than I am in fly or free ... the more I swim it the easier it gets, good thing I don't the 200 though ...

Stacy are you swimming at Evanston?

November 30th, 2006, 08:19 PM
Yup, I'll be there. I just sent you a PM...