Brett Hawke: Why You Should Be Perfecting Your Streamline

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what is the best position for your head. I normally allow the water to take the weight and look fown. I’m a long distance swimmer (21 miles +) so economy is my watch word

Loretta cox 18 enero, 2024

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When it comes to freestyle sprinting, decorated swimmer and coach Brett Hawke is the guy. As a world-class freestyle sprinter in the early 2000s and now one of the most sought after sprint coaches on the planet, Hawke’s influence in the world of swimming is notorious. While forged his career on the biggest stages (including five Olympics), Hawke believes there is one basic skill every swimmer can work on to see improvement, whether they’re going for Olympic gold or just learning how to compete: streamline. 

“Streamline is the number one thing that if you make improvements in that and you work on that every day it’s going to make the biggest impact in your swimming,” Hawke says vehemently. 

“So many people get it wrong. They're streamlining is so poor and they're spending so much time in movement and creating resistance that they're not spending enough time on efficiency. Learning how to conserve energy, how to be efficient, those things are the most important things that can get you through your race.”


Streamline is the basic body position swimmers are taught when they begin. Characterized by a long body posture with arms and legs fully extended, hands together and feet touching, it aims to put the body in the position of minimum resistance against the water. Swimmers use this position when diving in or pushing off the wall in the pool. 

Working on such an entry-level skill might seem below even a recreational swimmer but Hawke posits that streamline isn’t as basic as it sounds. “It’s posture in the water, body line, head position, feel for the water— these are things that are just simple and basic but these are the things that I absolutely had to study in order to perfect,” he says. 

“I put so much emphasis on streamline drills because there are so many people that don't fully understand streamline. They don't understand the proper technique. They don't understand that they need to work on it every single day. It needs to be one of those things that is just part of your repertoire of consistent drilling and perfecting.”


“Ultimately, as soon as you start moving your arms and legs you start creating resistance. If you're not in a streamlined position effectively, then you're going to create so much resistance off the start and off the turns,” Hawke explains. 

While mastering streamline can help other areas of your stroke, Hawke turns to simple math to convince swimmers just how much of a benefit it can be. 

“Imagine: how many times are you coming off a wall in a streamline position? Let's say you're doing a streamline 100 times a day—that’s a lot of turns. If you can improve your streamline 100 out of 100 times every single day, and you multiply that by how much you swim per week, and then you multiply that by how much you swim per month, now you're making massive improvements in your swimming just because you're focused on improving your streamline.”

“If you're gaining inches off every streamline, off every wall, every day, people can make huge ground…You put half a body length on someone just on a streamline where you didn't have to work for it, you're just in a better position. Then you've saved energy and you're able to finish the race better because you've already put on half a body length against someone who's not efficient enough underwater.”


The easiest way to work on streamline is the simple push and glide off the wall. 

“So you push off the wall and you hold your line as best you can and you glide as far as you can. Then you stop and you measure it on the lane line and you see where you got.  Then you go back and you try and get a little bit further, and then further, and then further.”

It sounds simple because it is but it’s the subtleties of understanding how slight changes can impact your total glide distance that makes perfecting streamline so complex. 

“The more you realize these little nuances— maybe my head position, maybe if I tuck my stomach in, maybe if I flatten my back, if I bring my knees together, point my toes, point my fingers, maybe if I squeeze my elbows or squeeze my ears against my shoulders—when you make these little nuanced differences, you can gain centimeters, inches.”

Once you have perfected the push and glide and need more of a challenge, Hawke says advancing the drill to increase difficulty is a great addition to any practice. For example, practicing streamline under fatigue (doing the push and glide at the end of training) or out of a flip turn with speed. 

No matter your level, Hawke suggests making basic and varied streamline drills a consistent part of your swim practice. 


“Streamline is the number one thing that I always put the most emphasis on,” he reiterates, adding that still applies when he is coaching high level swimmers all over the world. “It’s the most basic necessity that we teach from day one. A lot of swimmers just aren't streamlining effectively so it’s teaching basic skills but doing them effectively.” 

“If you're practicing perfect streamline every wall, a hundred times a day, you're learning how to be efficient, you're learning how to conserve energy, and you're gonna be a much better athlete in the long run.”

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what is the best position for your head. I normally allow the water to take the weight and look fown. I’m a long distance swimmer (21 miles +) so economy is my watch word

Loretta cox

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