Olympian Lauren Boyle discusses 5 top tips for efficient swimming

Body position is key to swimming fast! By making sure you are flat in the water you become more streamlined and have less resistance. Pushing your chest down helps float your legs up if you struggle with this.

Breathing to both sides (bilaterally) helps balance your stroke out and can also reduce injury. It also makes it easier to see your competitors while you’re racing! If you practice breathing bilaterally then when the wave comes from any direction during the ocean swim you will be ready and able to adapt!

Lengthen out your stroke as much as you can because this makes you more efficient. By taking less strokes you will be more powerful and able to go faster when it comes down to a sprint at the end of the race.

Pace yourself! Save your energy by not kicking too much at the beginning of the race. Kicking can help you go fast but is better used towards the end.

Practice sighting while you’re training. During the ocean swim you need to know where you’re going. Every fourth lap or so throw in a few strokes where you practice looking around above the water.

Tweet me if you have questions regarding swimming! twitter.com/@1aurenboyle

Nigel Webb says 23 October 2012

Hi Lauren, I know that you and many coaches promote bi- lateral breathing, yet at this years olympics a number of swimmers were still only breathing to one side. Is this not affecting their stoke or are they so efficient in what they are doing under the water that it doesn’t matter. Be interested to know your thoughts on this. Also what’s your favourite swim drill.



    Grant says 24 October 2012

    Hi Nigel,

    Yes, you’re right. A lot of Olympic swimmers do favor one side during racing because they are more efficient breathing one way than the other. I breath mainly to my right when I’m under pressure in a race. However, during training I try to breath bilaterally almost always because this improves my breathing to the left. It is important that you are efficient both ways so that if you need to take a look at your competitors during the race you don’t loose too much speed by breathing to the less efficient side.
    I also find that by practicing both ways my stoke becomes more balanced and less bumpy.

    My favorite drill is one arm with my non working arm by my side. I like to imagine I am swimming with both arms and try to keep my rhythm as it would be if I were using both arms. This really engages my core and makes me aware of the timing of my breathing. If the rhythm isn’t quite right I sink a little when I breath.

    I hope this helps you!


Bella says 24 October 2012

Hi Lauren,

One thing I struggle in the pool is kicking. I don’t seem to move fast at all when doing kicking drill, but fins help me with this. I find pulling is easier and my upper body is stronger. I wonder if I am creating too much drag through the lower body and this is affecting my speed as I find it hard to go faster. What is your suggestion? I do triathlon so would be great to see improvement outside of the pool as well.

Look forward to your reply. Thanks!

    Grant says 24 October 2012

    Hi Bella,

    Kicking is one of my weaknesses too! I have found that making sure my feet are always under the water (so I’m not kicking air or “white water”) helps. Practicing kicking without a board, on your side with one arm out in front as a streamline, or on your back, can also help you develop better feel for the water on your feet.

    In regards to feeling as though your kicking is creating drag, I would say that it may not be your kick, but more likely your body position that is making you feel as though you have resistance through the water. If your head is too high then your legs and lower body will feel like they are sinking. Try pressing your chest down slightly and looking at the floor of the pool to even yourself out. Also check that your legs aren’t bending at the knee too much when you kick – this could also be creating drag.

    Hope that helps and good luck with your swimming!

Nick says 24 October 2012

Hi Lauren

I really notice a loss of speed when I breathe – it seems that whatever I do it slows me right down. Is this natural or do you have any tips to overcome it?



    Grant says 25 October 2012

    Hi Nick,

    Breathing is an easy place to loose speed if you’re not careful. Making sure you’re not looking behind you when you breath may help you stay in line. Breathing by rotating your whole body instead of just your neck can help too. Blowing bubbles while your head is under the water reduces the time your head needs to be turned to the side because you will only need to inhale. This should help you maintain speed and slot the breath into your stroke pattern more easily.

    I try to think about a string running from my toes to the crown of my head – this helps my body stay in a straight line – even when I’m breathing.
    Hope that helps!


Josh says 28 October 2012

Hi Lauren,
Whats the best way to spot when ocean swimming? I always seem to go off course and swim extra!

    Grant says 29 October 2012

    Hi Josh

    The best way to spot while swimming is to have something large and easily visible near the finish line to swim towards. If you visit the finish line before the big day and pick a large monument or landmark you can see from the start line that should help. Spot by taking a look every 10 ish strokes. Also be aware of which way the current may be pulling you – you may have to compensate for this while you’re swimming. Make sure you look for the buoys as well! They are usually huge and easy to see.

    Hope that helps you!

Hana Peacock says 19 August 2013

Hi Lauren
My name is Hana and I am 10 years old I have speeches coming up and I decided to do you I have already started but I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me
like what is your favourite thing to eat ?

and what do you like to do when your not swimming ?

and if you had anything else
thanks Hana

P.S I love swimming

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