What a drag! Understanding one of the biggest hurdles in your swimming


Swimming drag

Start of the session 1 video analysis shows typical drag force affecting the swimmers progress

Freestyle body position

Swimming analysis video 2 shows the swimmer with improved balance and reduced drag after only 30 minutes


Do you want to swim more efficiently, faster or further, but find your stroke too exhausting, unsustainable or deteriorates over time?

Probably the biggest issue for adult learner, improver and even advanced swimmers, in some cases, is the ‘drag’ effect, created by sinking hips and legs.

  1. Reduce your ‘drag’ and you will:
  • improve your times
  • improve your swimming efficiency/ decrease the amount of energy needed to complete a swim
  • swim longer distance’s without stopping
  • be more likely to stay in your aerobic energy zone
  • increase your stroke length (decrease my strokes per length)


2. What causes ‘drag’?

The position of your centre of gravity when horizontal – is in your sternum!!!! Think about it! No wonder our back ends sink, with the weight distributed mostly in the torso and legs. But we add to this dilemma with

  • Head position – too high
  • Arm entry position – too high, flat and reaching
  • Rigidity and tension throughout the body, inhibiting fluid relaxed movement patterns
  • Lack of engagement through core stabiliser muscles causing a sagging torso, and hyper extended spine
  • Kick mechanics that include too much flexion at the knee
  • Less that optimal forwards propulsion, relative to the needs of our body mass and weight distribution. If we’re not moving our bodies forwards, (only moving our arms through the water),  there is lack of an upthrust force, that gives some lift to the legs. This is often over looked by many coaches.

Optimal propulsion is indicated by your stroke length. If a swimmer has a good stroke length ( optimal SPL )  and is converting a around 60-70% of their wingspan into forward propulsion – I bet you, their legs won’t be sinking (assuming correct head and arm entry position). However, a swimmer who is converting under 50% of their wingspan, and exhibiting ‘windmilling’ arms (high SPL) is more likely to have the challenge of drag. Improve your efficiency and you will reduce your drag!!


Get coached this season and learn how to problem solve these fundamental swimming problems. Simple, effective skills and drills that improve your swimming