Swim Faster with Less Effort: Maximize Your Streamline Position

by Wayne Gilmour, DPT

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The streamline position is the most efficient position with the least drag while swimming. This allows the maximum propulsion, also known as the fastest swimming speed. Tightness in the latissimus dorsi (lats) can cause a swimmer to extend (arch) their back while getting into this position. This creates more drag and causes your swimming to be less efficient. Luckily, there is a simple test to assess whether you have this issue and two easy stretches that can address it if you do.

Streamline Wall Test

If you can’t reach all the way to the wall with the test above (without arching your back), check out the two exercises below to improve that range of motion.

Passive Lat Stretch (2 sets x 1 min hold each side)

Keys:

  • Open grip with palm facing back towards body
  • Look under armpit
  • Sink hips towards floor
  • Hold for a minute twice on each side

Once you have worked on passive stretching to improve muscle length, it’s important to lock in that new range of motion with active control. The exercise below works on improving serratus anterior and lower trap strength and control to help maintain the range of motion you gained from the lat stretch.

Y Wall Slides (3 sets x 10 reps of 3 sec hold)

Keys:

  • Don’t arch your back
  • Don’t try to reach “high” and lift the shoulder blades, just straighten elbows
  • Should feel muscles at bottom of shoulder blade and underneath the armpit
  • 3 sets of 10 with 3 second holds

Try out these exercises and see the improvement in your streamline position! If you have any questions or experience any pain or discomfort, please reach out for a consultation.

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