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For a lot of coaches and swimmers, freestyle body position is all about being horizontal in the water.
But that’s only part of the story. Being horizontal is basic, and it’s really just the beginning.
The biggest thing I think about on freestyle is not balance...but how I’m breathing. The breath -- especially when it pertains to an IM -- dictates a lot of your freestyle.
For me, freestyle body position is all about keeping your rotation going as you’re breathing. You want to continue to rotate to both sides no matter what side you’re breathing on.
In the IM, the freestyle leg is pretty much a sprint to the finish, and I like to breathe every stroke and they’re all to the right side.
My shoulders and hips obviously rotate to the right because that’s the side I’m breathing on. The challenge is to rotate back to my left side, which is the side I’m not breathing on.
You don’t want to stay flat in the water at any point in freestyle. You want to continue to rotate from side to side so that you’re using your whole body to do the stroke and not just your arms and your legs.
To get this kind of rotation in a race, when I’m breathing just to one side, I breathe bilaterally when I train. It’s something I’ve always done.
The other thing I do to train my rotation and to keep my body involved with the stroke, is to make a connection between my hands and my head. At full speed, you can see there’s no hesitation when I turn to get a breath.
If we slow it down, you can see that as my left hand enters, my head is turned to the side to take a breath. And when my right hand comes around and I’m rotating over to the other side, my head is already back down.
In terms of my head and eye position, I like to be in a neutral swimming position. I’m not looking straight forward OR straight down. My eyes are looking at a 45-degree angle. I try to have the water line about an inch or so above my cap line.