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Mon 20th Sep 2021
Swimming: keep your head still
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Monday 16th December 2013

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We recently published an article called the Triathlon Medley from swim coach Dan Bullock from Swim for Tri (, in which Dan outlined the logical reasons why triathletes should consider the 'other' swim strokes, and elements of them, in their training at this time of the year.

In this latest piece, Dan considers head position in Front Crawl swimming, particularly in regard to open water swimming an the absence of lane ropes, walls and black lines to guide you. The advice is quite simple - outside of breathing and sighting, keep your head still!

During practice this morning I started to wiggle my head ever so slightly during some distance Front Crawl sets. Not related to breathing or sighting. I just moved my head a little bit. I felt it in my hips, my arm pull was affected, I could feel the effect on my legs. I could not keep straight. Going into the new year if you feel your leg kick is ok, and not dragging you down and your catch is ok this might be the area to look at next to get faster. It will certainly keep you swimming straighter.

If you are not breathing then the head should remain still. Completely still. If it moves unnecessarily (sighting and breathing are necessary of course), then you are likely to add distance to an open water swim. The body will follow the movement of the head if excessive, and you will struggle to swim in a straight line. 

If the head remains still and chin down:

  • it is very hard to over rotate, as the head 'blocks' excessive roll and glide
  • there will be fewer wobbles introduced to the stroke due to the body being off balance
  • pool swimmers spend a lot of time refining this despite pool conditions being perfect. In the less then ideal open water conditions I only see this being more essential.

The skill in keeping the head still and allowing the body to rotate independently is not easy to acquire later in life but is worth working towards if you want to swim faster in open water.

For more information on open water sessions, swim coaching, workshops and overseas camps visit

Swim for Tri

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