Fitness experts answer all your questions about swimming

Do you have any tips to improve my breathing when I am swimming?

Taking regular breaths helps you to keep going for longer. Breathe out while your face is in the water and breathe alternately to each side on front crawl to keep your body balanced. Breathing will become easier as you become fitter and more proficient at your technique. But you can also work on lung strength in other ways. Try holding your breath while holding on to the wall or bar of the pool or swimming underwater to help strengthen your lungs.

Olympic medalist and coach Karen Pickering

I really love swimming, but I get bored very easily. What’s the best way to stay motivated when you are doing lengths of the pool?

Stroke counting is a really good way to stay focused and improve your stroke efficiency. Count the number of strokes you do in one length and try to do fewer strokes with each consecutive length. You could also try introducing training aids. Hand paddles (available from Zoggs and Speedo) are designed to replicate the contour of your hands so that you can improve stroke technique. And a simple kickboard is a great way to work the legs. Hold it between your hands, then work your legs by kicking without too much splash. Remember that the power to kick should come from the movement under the water rather than splashing on top.

Olympic medalist David Davies

Are there drills to help improve body position in the water?

The catch-up drill is great for practising a long stroke and long body position. Swim regular front crawl except with one arm stationary and extended forwards towards the end of the pool. The other arm (your working arm) performs the stroke. When the working arm moves forward and catches-up with the stationary arm, they change places. It can also be performed with a kickboard with the stationary arm holding the float. As the arms change places, they hand off the board to each other.

Olympic coach Bill Furniss

I’m keen to dip my toe in competitive waters but don’t want to join a club. Any suggestions?

You could try the Swimathon ( — the world’ largest swimming fundraising event, which is held annually. There will be 500 public and private pools taking part this year and more than half a million people have taken part in the event during its 22-year history. There are events for all abilities and you can enter teams or spread the distance you swim over several days.

Peta Bee, fitness journalist

My legs are much stronger than my arms. What can I do to rectify this?

Top swimmers use kickboards and pull-buoys in their training programmes to work specifically on the upper or lower body. To strengthen your arms, use a pull-buoy: a float that fits comfortably between the legs and allows you to rest your lower body while maintaining a natural positioning in the water.
David Davies

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