If you are going to compete against the world’s best, then being tall is a great advantage. The reason for this is because the taller you are the longer you can pull under water with each stroke. Being able to pull further with each stroke means that you can take fewer strokes per lap than somebody who is shorter. This is a great advantage for you as the shorter person would have to either outlast you or move their arms quicker and they are 2 things you could improve also. Unfortunately for them, they can’t improve their height.
Height is not the only factor so don’t despair if you are vertically challenged. Your stroke rate is an important element in increasing speed. Your stroke rate is calculated by how many strokes you take per second. The faster you can stroke the faster you can potentially go. The word ‘potentially’ is used because as with many sports, the increase in speed often increases the chance of inefficiency. This means that there is a greater chance that your technique will be affected by trying to move your arms so fast. The faster you can rotate your arms and not affect your technique under the water the faster you will go.
In order to train for increased stroke rate, rubber band training can be used. This is where a band is attached to the swimmer and pulls them along the pool. This makes the swimmer move faster than they normally can and they have to try and increase their stroke rate to keep up with the new found speed. This takes time to master yet is an effective way of increasing speed.
Even though you are swimming short distances in a sprint race, the body still needs to be incredibly fit. When put under pressure the body needs to produce energy quickly and it can do this by breaking down glycogen without oxygen. This is known as the anaerobic system. The body can only do this for a short amount of time. As a result of using no oxygen to produce this energy it creates a by-product called lactic acid. This is the burn you feel in your muscles when you perform intense exercise.
The more training you do the more efficient the body systems become and your body can work harder before it starts producing large amounts of lactic acid. The body also becomes better at coping with lactic acid. This allows it to push through the muscle burn. The problem with getting the body to adapt to this is that it requires intense training. You need to put the body under pressure to be able to improve in this area.