Streamlining, a.k.a. spiking is a fundamental swimming technique not often mastered, even by good swimmers.  It is utilized in every stroke and is especially important in short course events, since it is done off every wall.  As with most other techniques, practice makes perfect--so practice it often, and before you know it, you will do it perfectly without thinking.

When.   Streamlining is done anytime a swimmer is in a gliding position--off every wall and start.

Prep. The preparation for a good streamline happens either in the air when diving, or while doing a turn.  The key preparation components are the hand lock, the head placement, and the arm lock.  The hand lock involves the hands being over the swimmer's head with palms facing forward.  They are placed one on top of the other and are interlocked usually with the thumb of the upper hand wrapping around the lower hand.  Sometimes swimmers slightly interlock the fingers of each hand.  After the hands are locked above the head, the head then drops down to where the chin is almost touching the chest.  Once the hands are locked and over the head, the arms are straightened and elbows locked.

This is no easy task for many people whose muscles are too tight to stretch in that position.  The lats and back neck muscles get pulled fairly hard during this.  It also becomes increasingly difficult to get the 'tightness' in the streamline as a swimmer's triceps get fatigued, since the triceps are what bring the arms into a locked position.  It is worth the effort, however, because once locked, the arms put forth much less energy and the effects of the streamline are large.

The Line. The goal of a good streamline is to get the body into the most hydrodynamic position as possible. It is like trying to mimic a torpedo.  By making yourself shaped less like a dump truck and more like a spear, your body will get much more speed and distance from its glides.  To do this, the swimmer maintains the upper body streamline achieved above during entry or during push-off.  Once the glide begins, arms stay tight, abs pull in and tighten up, the butt tightens, and the legs tighten up.  Legs should be together and toes should be pointed.  The end result should be what looks like a spear gliding through the water.  Your entire body will be stiff and compact, and as skinny as possible.

Once the glide slows a bit (the timing will come with practice), the kick begins.  The upper body retains its streamlined position as the kick begins.  At some point, the swimmer will break out of the streamline and begin their stroke.

Don't be lazy with this one.  Practice it on every turn and every start and before you know it, you will be pumping out great streamlines on every wall without giving it a second thought.  Watch swimmers that streamline well, and you will notice the speed they gain on those that do it poorly.  In a distance short course event, the time gained can be huge.  The other great advantage to having a great streamline is that the longer you can hold the spiked position and retain a good speed, the longer you can effectively rest at each turn.  Swimmers that surface a half yard sooner than the good streamliners are bound to get much more fatigued at the end of a distance event.

Below are some illustrations of a good streamlined position.  Check them out!


Streamlining  1.7 Kb