I would like to know how to glide further without sinking. I can only glide a very short distance, maybe 2-3 body lengths, before I start sinking. I am a "sinker", so this may be a part of it, but I know I can do better. I hold my arms tight to my head to try and streamline when I push off the wall. Any suggestions for how I might be able to go further?
If you have already established that you are a ‘sinker’, my question would be, how do you know you can do better?
Much of the information you are looking for can be found in my book The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming. Click here to more information, or scroll to the bottom of this page.
Assuming your hands and feet are together as you push away from the wall to maximise your streamlining, it sounds like you are doing everything you need.
I am a sinker and can glide maybe three body lengths before I begin to slow down and sink.
The momentum you gain from your push-off and your overall body shape in the water determines the rate at that you slow down. Your relative density then determines the rate at which you sink.
The only other factor that will influence the distance you travel is the resistance of the water against your body. Reducing or removing body hair, wearing a tight-fitting swimming costume and wearing a swim hat will all help to reduce your resistance to the water if you want to go to these extremes.
The other factors are harder to influence. Your body shape is your body shape, and maximising its streamlined efficiency (hands and feet together, head tucked down, body position flat) is probably as much as you can do.
Your relative density is difficult to change in a short time, and becoming fitter and stronger will only make your muscle denser and, therefore, heavier, which is really not a bad thing! People with more body fat tend to float better, but decreasing body fat is preferable, so let's not go there!
The real art of swimming comes from taking your most efficient streamlined body shape and maintaining it throughout whichever stroke you swim.
Experimenting with your body shape by pushing off the wall is a great exercise to practice, but it is only the beginning. Keeping your streamlined body shape throughout your swimming strokes is an entirely different challenge.
My eBook The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming contains a whole chapter about gliding, along with chapters about how to relax and how and when to breathe. Click the link below for more information.