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by David Marsh

October 1, 2013

Visualize swimming through a cone

To put it simply, if you want to swim faster, you need to reduce the drag you’re creating in the water. There’s an endless number of technical drills one can practice to improve body position, timing, and technique to reduce drag.

But there are also mental or visualization drills that swimmers should incorporate into their practices. One of my favorites is the cone drill. In essence, visualize the recovery of your stroke—any stroke—as if you’re trying to squeeze your entire body into a streamline position to swim through a cone, from the large end to the small end.

For example, if you’re swimming breaststroke, during your hand recovery, your biceps should be tight to your ears and your head in a streamline position as you extend forward, swimming through the imaginary cone. For freestyle and backstroke, extend each recovery stroke as far forward as possible, allowing your body to find a streamline position and squeeze through the imaginary cone.

For swimmers who may not be able to rely as much on pure strength to power through the water and cover stroke flaws, improving body streamline when swimming and when pushing off the wall will reduce drag and lead to more efficient and faster swimming. Next time you are swimming, visualize that you’re trying to streamline your way through a cone, from the large end to the small end.

Coach Marsh will be head coach of the USA Swimming Foundation Fantasy Camp, a USMS-sanctioned clinic scheduled for November at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Deadline to register is October 7.


  • Technique and Training


  • Breaststroke
  • Mental Training
  • Stroke Technique
  • Drills