19 - 3 Steps of Swimming: #3 Arms Out, Dive Back In

TL:DR | The worst thing I see with newer swimmers is how they slap the water. Some “advanced” swimmers might state it gives you more distance. 99% of the time you are just WASTING energy.

2 min read
19 -  3 Steps of Swimming: #3 Arms Out, Dive Back In

Alright Robin Hood shoot your arrow!

Your arms are like clockwork, going up, going down, and coming back around. They are the accelerator of your swimming. Sure you can move with just your legs, but you can only swim once you add your arms.

Just make sure you don’t smack the water surface! 😂

Why + Philosophy:

When swimming you want to try and move in the least resistance way possible. You may be using the resistance to move yourself forward, when you pull, but you want to minimize the resistance as much as possible when resetting your stroke.

Meaning when you finish pulling you would want to go where the least amount is present. Air is much lighter than water, and that is why we come out of the water. Hence why doggy paddle for example is so inefficient, as your body stays completely submerged. Not to mention you move in such a way that barely pulls any water either.

How + Physics:

By coming out of the water you allow your arms to reset in their stroke, and we do not want to smack down either. The other half of this Step of Swimming, is the diving down back into the water portion. Allowing you to enter the water, without having to fight the surface tension. Imagine a wall on top of the water, and if you smack the water you are smacking the wall.

You start off with your hands together, they both pull (a great double forward momentum moment), and then they start the clock gear like pattern. Up and down, and they bend out of the water, diving back down, and then you reach out and pull.

Seems like a lot, but it is simply just all one cycle. Usually the arms are in opposite places too, so that one arm is pulling while the other is resetting. That way you are always having some pull forward momentum.

What + Psychology:

Where a lot of people’s problems arise is when they try to put all three steps together. They get distracted by the legs, or the breathing, and then they fail or forget to do the arms. Just always remember the steps: Legs, Face, Arms. I made the system as a sort of mnemonic, that way you can remember it easily WHILE IN THE MOMENT.

Sure it is helpful to reflect on your previous lap, and discover what you did right or wrong. However if you can improve your movement, while still in the process of doing it, then you’ll have a greater chance at progression.


Putting all three steps together, coordinating the arms, and most of all trying not to smack the water can be a challenging thing. However the more you do it, then the better you will get.

Finding time to get to the pool to swim, getting in the water, and then getting across. Those are all things you must do first. Once you do them you are already getting to be successful, so you might as well continue that productivity by getting better at your actual swimming!


This is advice for people to level up their swimming, or perhaps get started in the first place. While you swim you should make sure you are doing so in a public facility with a lifeguard on duty for safety.

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