I lose my front crawl technique and kick when tired. The first ten lengths are ok, but after that, when I get tired, it's all gone. Please help.
Thanks for contacting me with a question. A question I might add is that I am asked a lot!
Losing your technique because of tiredness is very common, and as front crawl is a high energy-consuming swimming stroke, it doesn’t take long before it all falls apart. Ten lengths is not bad going.
Here are a few things to think about that might help you.
Firstly you mentioned you kicking. Be mindful of how much kicking you are doing. It is common to kick far more than you need to, especially over a long distance.
Remember, the power and propulsion for the front crawl come mainly from the arm action. Propulsion is generated from the leg kick but nowhere near as much as from the arms.
Watch a long-distance front crawl swimmer, for example, a triathlete. Each leg kicks once for every arm pull, serving less as propulsion and more as a counterbalance to the arm actions to help keep the stroke as a whole balanced and even.
On the other hand, take a short distance front crawl sprint, over 50 or 100 meters. The legs kick with enormous speed and power to provide maximum propulsion and assistance to the arms. All energy is usually spent by the end of this short distance.
Conclusion: fewer leg kicks equal energy saved - the energy you will need to swim longer.
Secondly, be mindful of your breathing and how often you breathe. I will assume that you exhale into the water (the easiest and most natural method) and not hold your breath, which only makes you more tired.
Once again, the swum distance will dictate the frequency you need to breathe. Longer distances more often and shorter distances less. It is all too easy to set off from the start and get the pace and frequency of the breathing wrong, despite what might feel right at the time, only to catch you out later in the swim.
Breathing every stroke or every other stroke will help to keep a steady pace and hopefully allow you to last longer. Bilateral breathing (alternating the side you breathe to be taking a breath every three arm pulls) is a nice, even and steady breathing pattern. However, even this cannot be maintained over long distances. Taking a breath every stroke cycle will cover longer distances, which again you will see if you watch any long-distance swimmer.
Lastly, there is the age-old problem of fitness. Your fitness and stamina will ultimately dictate how far you can swim before your body tells you it has had enough. Like any exercise, the more you do it, the fitter and stronger you become.
I hope you can take on board the tips above, and with a little extra fitness and stamina, you can take your front crawl beyond ten and maintain your technique.