How Swim Speed Secrets Can Make You a Better Swimmer

Swim Speed Secrets reveals the world’s fastest way to swim–and will show you how to swim faster the next time you get into the water.

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes book cover image In Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes, 4-time Olympian, gold medalist, and triathlon world champion Sheila Taormina reveals the swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Over the course of 4 Olympic Games and throughout her career as a world champion triathlete, Taormina refined her exceptional technique as a student of the sport, studying the world’s best swimmers using underwater photographs and video analysis. From Johnny Weissmuller to Michael Phelps, the world’s fastest swimmers share two common elements: high stroke rate and a high-elbow underwater pull. [See what pro swimmers and coaches say about Swim Speed Secrets.]

Many swimmers and triathletes neglect the underwater pull and don’t think about stroke rate; they get distracted by their strokes per lap or try to perfect less critical details like body position, streamlining, and roll. Swim Speed Secrets focuses on producing power—the most crucial element of swimming—to help triathletes and swimmers overhaul their swim stroke and find the speed that’s been eluding them.

With a commonsense approach that comes from decades of practice and years of hands-on coaching experience, Taormina shows swimmers how to transition to faster swimming. Swim Speed Secrets includes:

  • Simple steps to master the world’s fastest way to swim
  • The best drills to cultivate a more sensitive feel for the water
  • Strength-building exercises to develop arm position and upper-body musculature
  • Crisp photos of Olympic swimmers and their high-elbow underwater pull
  • Clear descriptions of the key moments of the underwater pull
  • Tips that helped Taormina perform at a world-class level for two decades

[Download the table of contents and an excerpt.]

Swim Speed Secrets brings the focus back where it belongs—to a powerful underwater stroke. With this book, triathletes and swimmers can stop swimming for survival and break through to new levels of speed and confidence in the water.

Taormina’s companion book Swim Speed Workouts develops the world’s fastest swimming technique through workouts, drills, drylands, and a step-by-step training plan. And if you are interested in applying Sheila’s approach to all four competitive swimming strokes, consider Swim Speed Strokes.

Find new speed in the water with Swim Speed Secrets, available now in bookstores, tri and swimming shops, from VeloPress.com and from these online retailers:

Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Series reveals the world’s fastest way to swim. All three books in the series are available in bookstores, swim and tri shops, from the publisher VeloPress, and from online book retailers.

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes book coverSwim Speed Workouts for Swimmers and TriathletesSwim Speed Strokes by Sheila Taormina

Swim Speed Secrets reveals the swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Swim Speed Workouts provides waterproof workout cards, drills, and training plan so swimmers can get in the pool and learn the fastest way to swim.

Swim Speed Strokes shows how to master elite technique in all four competitive swimming strokes.

USA Triathlon Offers CEUs for These 2015 Swim Speed Secrets Clinics

USA Triathlon has approved 8 of Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Secrets clinics for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for USA Triathlon coaches!

6 clinics will be worth 6 CEUs each while 2 more clinics will be worth 3 CEUs each. USA Triathlon lists its CEU opportunities, including Sheila’s clinics, here on its website.

Please click through to register for Sheila’s clinics and get your USA Triathlon coaching CEUs!

REGISTRATION LINKS ARE HERE: http://swimspeedsecrets.com/swim-clinics/

Swim Speed Secrets Clinics 2015

REGISTRATION LINKS ARE HERE: http://swimspeedsecrets.com/swim-clinics/

Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Series reveals the world’s fastest way to swim. All three books in the series are available in bookstores, swim and tri shops, from the publisher VeloPress, and from online book retailers.

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes book coverSwim Speed Workouts for Swimmers and TriathletesSwim Speed Strokes by Sheila Taormina

Swim Speed Secrets reveals the swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Swim Speed Workouts provides waterproof workout cards, drills, and training plan so swimmers can get in the pool and learn the fastest way to swim.

Swim Speed Strokes shows how to master elite technique in all four competitive swimming strokes.

Sheila Taormina is a 4-time Olympian, gold medalist, ITU triathlon world champion, and internationally recognized swimming coach. Learn more about Sheila here or at sheilat.com.

Sheila Taormina Announces 2015 Swim Speed Secrets Clinic Schedule

4-time Olympian, gold medalist, and ITU triathlon world champion Sheila Taormina has announced her 2015 freestyle swimming technique clinic schedule! Registration is now open.

At each clinic, coach Taormina will work in groups and one-on-one with swimmers, masters swimmers, and triathletes to improve the power and propulsion they get with every stroke in the water.

REGISTRATION LINKS ARE HERE: http://swimspeedsecrets.com/swim-clinics/

Swim Speed Secrets Clinics 2015

REGISTRATION LINKS ARE HERE: http://swimspeedsecrets.com/swim-clinics/

Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Series reveals the world’s fastest way to swim. All three books in the series are available in bookstores, swim and tri shops, from the publisher VeloPress, and from online book retailers.

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes book coverSwim Speed Workouts for Swimmers and TriathletesSwim Speed Strokes by Sheila Taormina

Swim Speed Secrets reveals the swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Swim Speed Workouts provides waterproof workout cards, drills, and training plan so swimmers can get in the pool and learn the fastest way to swim.

Swim Speed Strokes shows how to master elite technique in all four competitive swimming strokes.

Sheila Taormina is a 4-time Olympian, gold medalist, ITU triathlon world champion, and internationally recognized swimming coach. Learn more about Sheila here or at sheilat.com.

Ariana Kukors’s Favorite Butterfly Drill: Vertical Dolphin Kick

Ariana KukorsAriana Kukors is the world-record holder in the 200-meter IM (long-course meters). She is a U.S. Olympian and world champion and was named American Swimmer of the Year in 2009 by Swimming World Magazine.

Ariana’s favorite drill for training a powerful, fast butterfly kick is “vertical dolphin kicking.”Swim Speed Strokes Ariana Kukors Vertical Dolphin Kick Drill

Ariana, like the powerful dolphin kicker Doug Reynolds, uses her entire body in the kicking action, not just her legs.

There are two degrees of difficulty for this drill: arms bent at 90 degrees or arms upright in the streamline position.

Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Series reveals the world’s fastest way to swim. Both books are available in bookstores, swim and tri shops, from the publisher VeloPress, and from online book retailers.

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes book coverSwim Speed Workouts for Swimmers and TriathletesSwim Speed Strokes by Sheila Taormina

Swim Speed Secrets reveals the swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Swim Speed Workouts provides waterproof workout cards, drills, and training plan so swimmers can get in the pool and learn the fastest way to swim.

Swim Speed Strokes shows how to master elite technique in all four competitive swimming strokes.

Sheila Taormina is a 4-time Olympian, gold medalist, ITU triathlon world champion, and internationally recognized swimming coach. Learn more about Sheila here or at sheilat.com.

Stroke Data Shows You How to Become a Faster Swimmer

Swim Speed Strokes by Sheila TaorminaWhen you begin swimming the techniques explored in Swim Speed Strokes, you’ll be taking on Olympic-level techniques, which means you will not just swim faster, you will swim effectively.

Swimming effectively allows you to enjoy multiple gears in your swimming. You will be able to swim easy, moderate, fast, sprint, and in-between gears such as easy/moderate and moderate/fast.

You will be in full control of the effort you put into your stroke (the gear you choose), and that effort will translate directly to the speed you travel. You will be able to choose the right gear for a race or the set you’re doing in practice.

The key to swimming in various gears is to maintain your stroke mechanics no matter which speed you choose. Nelson Deibel, 1992 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter breaststroke, explains it succinctly:

“You must hold the same amount of water when you want to go fast.”

What does it mean to hold the same amount of water when you want to go fast? It means that rather than spinning your arms and kicking your legs in a flurry of activity when you want to go fast, you maintain your curvilinear path and continue to focus on the connection among the components, building power and speed within that connection. It means channeling your champion spirit in the right direction.

There is a valuable tool in swimming that lets you know if you are directing your energy the right way and holding water as you ratchet up the speed. It is called stroke data. Stroke data is a set of numbers that reveal the details behind the ultimate measure of success in swimming—time. Think of time like the final score of a baseball game, with stroke data the statistics behind the score.

 Knowing your stroke data will show you the path to becoming a faster swimmer.

In Swim Speed Secrets, Sheila Taormina introduces the concepts of the Swimming Equation, which is the formula that determines how long it will take you to swim any given distance. The Swimming Equation is this:

 Strokes per Length x Stroke Rate = Seconds per Length

This website swimspeedsecrets.com introduces it in two posts. You don’t need to read them now to understand the ideas behind stroke data, but it would help.

Those posts introduce the ideas. Sheila covers the concepts in full detail in her book Swim Speed Secrets.

So what is your stroke data?

Any swimmer can gather stroke data on his or her own swims, and use elite swimmers’ numbers as a model and a target, to make progress toward becoming as proficient a swimmer as possible. Building proficiency into your stroke requires understanding the relation­ship between two pieces of data:

  • Stroke count
  • Stroke rate

You can learn how to find your stroke rate on this post, aptly titled: How to Find Your Stroke Rate.How to Time Your Freestyle Swimming Stroke Rate Swimming Cadence

How to Take Your Stroke Count

To take your stroke count, simply count each time your arms enter the water for a stroke.

In breaststroke and butterfly this is a straightforward task since the arms move synchronously. In freestyle and backstroke you have two choices; you can count as each arm enters the water, or you can count in full stroke cycles, which is every time an arm on one side of the body enters the water—from right arm to right arm or left to left. It does not matter which way you count, but when com­paring your count with others you need to use the same method.

In Swim Speed Strokes, stroke counts are gathered as full stroke cycles. If you prefer to count when each arm enters the water in freestyle and backstroke, that is fine. Sim­ply divide your number in half to make the conversion to a full-stroke cycle count.

When you compare your stroke count with that of other swimmers, also note the size of the pool in which the data was taken. Competitions/practices are held in 25-yard, 25-meter, or 50-meter pools. Stroke counts obviously vary depending on the size of the pool.

If a swimmer takes 10 full stroke cycles to cover the 20 meters, and if they complete each stroke in 2 seconds, then the swimmer’s time for the 20 meters is 20 seconds, calculated using the Swimming Equation:

Strokes per Length x Stroke Rate = Seconds per Length

(10 strokes) x (2 seconds per stroke) = 20 seconds

This equation shows swimmers that once they are on the surface stroking, there are only two ways to get faster. They can either take fewer strokes to cover the 20 meters or take their strokes at a faster rate. Simple enough, right? Lower one of the numbers and you will lower your time. Yes, in theory it is simple, but in real life it’s more complicated. The two factors in our equation are not nec­essarily mutually exclusive. Oftentimes the efforts a swimmer makes to lower one number adversely affects the other number.

Elizabeth Beisel

Elizabeth Beisel

In Sheila’s new book Swim Speed Strokes, Sheila provides stroke data for 29 elite swimming performances from actual swim meets, often winning and world record-setting swims. Here are a few of the stroke data swims she uses in the book:

  • Dana Vollmer, 2012 Olympics, 100m butterfly (gold medal and world record)
  • Michael Phelps, 2012 Olympics, 100m butterfly (gold medal)
  • Elizabeth Beisel, 2014 NCAA Division I Swimming Championships, 400m IM
  • Mary T. Meagher (“Madame Butterfly”), 1981 U.S. National Championships, 200m butterfly (gold medal and world record)

She also compares superstar swimmer and NBC Olympic commentator Rowdy Gaines’s stroke technique and data today—as a masters world-record holder—to his technique and data from 33 years ago when he broke the world records in the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter freestyles.

Swim Speed Strokes shows why stroke data is a valuable tool that all swim­mers should understand and put to use.

Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Series reveals the world’s fastest way to swim. Both books are available in bookstores, swim and tri shops, from the publisher VeloPress, and from online book retailers.

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes book coverSwim Speed Workouts for Swimmers and TriathletesSwim Speed Strokes by Sheila Taormina

Swim Speed Secrets reveals the swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Swim Speed Workouts provides waterproof workout cards, drills, and training plan so swimmers can get in the pool and learn the fastest way to swim.

Swim Speed Strokes shows how to master elite technique in all four competitive swimming strokes.

Sheila Taormina is a 4-time Olympian, gold medalist, ITU triathlon world champion, and internationally recognized swimming coach. Learn more about Sheila here or at sheilat.com.

Aaron Peirsol’s Favorite Backstroke Drill: Scull and Pull

Aaron PeirsolAaron Peirsol is the world-record holder in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke (long-course meters). He has competed for the United States at three Olympics—2000, 2004, and 2008—winning five gold medals and two silver medals.

One of Aaron’s favorite drills is the “scull and pull,” which is designed to help a swimmer feel for the catch from the extended straight-arm entry. Since backstrokers cannot see their hand/arm during entry and catch, it is useful to repeatedly practice the motion in isolation and develop the proprioceptive ability to know that the hand/arm faces back on the water.Swim Speed Strokes Aaron Peirsol scull and pull drill

When Aaron feels his hand/arm is positioned facing back on the water, he returns to the extended position so he can repeat the scull motion and practice feeling for the catch again. Once he has felt the catch a second time he pulls through (the “pull” portion of the drill) to the diagonal and finish phases of the stroke and switches arms.

Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Series reveals the world’s fastest way to swim. Both books are available in bookstores, swim and tri shops, from the publisher VeloPress, and from online book retailers.

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes book coverSwim Speed Workouts for Swimmers and TriathletesSwim Speed Strokes by Sheila Taormina

Swim Speed Secrets reveals the swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Swim Speed Workouts provides waterproof workout cards, drills, and training plan so swimmers can get in the pool and learn the fastest way to swim.

Swim Speed Strokes shows how to master elite technique in all four competitive swimming strokes.

Sheila Taormina is a 4-time Olympian, gold medalist, ITU triathlon world champion, and internationally recognized swimming coach. Learn more about Sheila here or at sheilat.com.

The Curvilinear Path Is Not an Illusion

The curvilinear path in elite swimming is not an illusion caused by body rotation or elbow flexion. It’s undeniably present in the world’s fastest swimmers.

Here’s just one example of the incontestable proof shown in over 300 photographs in Swim Speed Strokes: Elizabeth Beisel swims butterfly in this photo sequence below. There’s no body rotation in butterfly swimming, yet we can clearly see her arms taking a curved path, not a straight path, as she presses back on the water.

Swim Speed Strokes Butterfly Curvilinear Path 600px

Like all elite swimmers, Beisel’s pull is highly propulsive partly because she navigates to planes of ‘still’ or ‘non-moving’ water rather than pushing back on the same column of moving water. No train tracks here!

Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Series reveals the world’s fastest way to swim. All three books in the series are available in bookstores, swim and tri shops, from the publisher VeloPress, and from online book retailers.

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes book coverSwim Speed Workouts for Swimmers and TriathletesSwim Speed Strokes by Sheila Taormina

Swim Speed Secrets reveals the swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Swim Speed Workouts provides waterproof workout cards, drills, and training plan so swimmers can get in the pool and learn the fastest way to swim.

Swim Speed Strokes shows how to master elite technique in all four competitive swimming strokes.

Sheila Taormina is a 4-time Olympian, gold medalist, ITU triathlon world champion, and internationally recognized swimming coach. Learn more about Sheila here or at sheilat.com.