How to use video feedback to improve your swimming

While not everyone has access to a coach, the majority of triathletes will have access to a smartphone… aka a great swim-feedback tool. Andrew Sheaff explains how to use it to improve your swim performance

asian chinese personal trainer showing his student on the swimming style recorded using underwater action camera  at poolside after the swimming class

Thankfully for us swimmers, video technology has progressed dramatically over the last decade. And just about everyone has a high-speed camera in their pocket, aka a smartphone.

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Many of the latest models are water resistant to well beyond any depth you’d ever want to film yourself swimming, so there’s a tremendous opportunity to use video feedback to improve your swimming.

Why you need to watch yourself swim

Most triathletes have an image in their head of what they look like when they swim. In most cases, that image is wrong.  The same is probably true of you. Any attempt to use verbal descriptions to help someone understand what they really look like is going to be a waste of time.

However, once you see how you’re swimming any feedback you receive from others will make a whole lot more sense. With a better understanding of what you’re actually doing when you swim, you’ll be better positioned to make the desired changes to your skills.

How to spot errors in your swimming

If you don’t have a coach, it can be difficult to identify which skills you should work on to improve your swimming skills. But in almost all cases, you can use a simple video of your swimming to identify areas where you can improve.

While you may or may not be able to see every little nuance present in your stroke, you will be able to see the obvious issues.

Errors in breathing, body position, and arm recoveries are obvious to most individuals with some swimming experience, and you’ll be able to see spot these same errors in your swimming.

The good news is that it is the big errors that have the biggest impact on performance. Just as importantly, they tend to be the skills that are the easiest to improve.

If you don’t have a coach, simply getting video of yourself will be a huge step forward in identifying opportunities for technical improvement, opportunities you’ll be likely to take advantage of to enhance your performance.

How to improve your swimming using video

When you decide to embark on improving your skill, it can be tough to know when you’ve actually made the necessary correction. If it feels a little different, most triathletes will assume they’ve made the necessary change.

Unfortunately, even though a skill feels different, a sufficient change usually hasn’t been made… and triathletes rarely confirm that a change has actually been made!

With the use of video, you can ensure that you’ve sufficiently modified your skills. Film yourself, keep correcting your skill, perhaps even overcorrecting your skill, until you can create a visible change on camera.

It’s at that point that you know how dramatically different it will feel to execute the skill. When it’s difficult to trust what you’re feeling, you can confirm that you’re on the right path with video.

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Top image: Getty Images