Swimming Exercises: Streamline, Stability, and the Power of Pull ups

Swimming Tips by Dan Daly

DALY Tip 1: This is #1 thing slowing most swimmers down!

It’s not your fitness, or the mechanics of your stroke, but the shape, form, and streamline of your body going through the water, frontal drag. Your entry, extension and glide are critical pieces to maximize efficiency and minimize effort. Focusing on the first two phases of the freestyle stroke can have a positive ripple effect through the rest of the phases, reduce drag and maximize your effort to swim faster through the water. 

Check out a few of these land and water drills to improve your position and streamline. 

Balance, streamline and buoyancy 

Shoulder mobility 

Shoulder core and hip stability


DALY Tip 2: Your best stroke is a loaded and anchored catch with the body moving and rotating around it.

Here’s a few kettlebell drills that teach shoulder stability with hip and spine mobility. 


Bent Press


Bent Press


DALY Tip 3: Here’s a series of progressive pool drills and supporting dryland exercises to help you establish better streamline and efficiency through mobility and stability that improve balance and buoyancy.

Surface Push Offs

Foam Roll Lats

Side Kick with Fins 

Side Plank 

Side Kick 1 Stroke 


Single Arm Stroke 

Single Arm Dryland Cords 

DALY Tip 4:

With all the time spent swimming overhead, a smart pulling plan is essential for healthy shoulders, and a propulsive stroke. Try these horizontal pulling alternatives to give your shoulders a break.

Overhead supported 3-Point Row
Wall supported 1 arm row
Birddog Row

DALY Tip 5:

The evidence is clear, strong pull-ups translate to a more propulsive stroke and a faster swim. Yet, pull-ups can be a challenge for many athletes. When’s the last time you were on a pull up program? Try these pull up progressions as a starting point for any ability. 

Band assisted pull ups from the knee 

Band assisted pull-ups from the foot 

Jumping pull ups with a slow descent 

Jumping pull ups


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