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I am trying to fix my head and hip positioning by looking down instead of forward and pressing my chest and / or head down.

It's kind of awkward to press your chest down while also looking down and keeping your head at the surface of the water. My friend tells me that I was swimming with my whole body about an inch below the surface. But I'm pretty sure it was faster.

In some videos, Phelps looks like he's looking pretty far forward, so I tried to look a little forward and press only my chest. That felt like it really worked to get my hips on the surface and my head at the top, but I was told that my head was still underwater and it also didn't feel quite as fast. It was also hard to press the chest without feeling like I was looking way too far forward.

I'm sure I'll get used to this, but when I press my chest down, I feel like I have so much less breath. I'm a sprinter, so it's less of a big deal, but I'm hoping that goes away eventually or is at least normal?

Some of the later positions I've tried for head and hip position have made my upper lats through my shoulders through the top of the arm ache/hurt, and this aching is accentuated when I switch to a kickboard for kicking sets. I think I've become lazy in my arm pulls as I work on other technical issues (which may be contributing to this), but part of it I think is that my arm is floating above my head and body so when I rotate and pull the arm, it doesn't have as much power.

Thorpe complicates the whole issue because apparently he lets his hips drop a little so he can use his legs to power him along better.

What can I do to alleviate these issues and how can I get a better head and hip position for sprinting?

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@ Millie Smith.. while doing front crawl aka Free style. Don't look forward it will drop your hips down and during breathe recovery you'll find yourself struggling to come up to water surface to breathe. Instead keep your Head + Back + Hip linear.And movement of these must be same and synchronized. Make sure these 3 make a linear line rather than an arc or bow like posture. This will keep your body more closer to surface. As you described above you are more bit faster while keeping your body under water. Obviously you are right about this. But you are a sprinter not under water swimmer so definitely you will be needing more breathes. And breathes will be easy only when your body is more closer to water surface. One more thing keep your body relax and full of air by continuous breathing.. automatically you'll be on water surface

Hope this will help...

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Keeping your body below the surface is quicker than trying to plow through the water. Think of it as in submarine vs. a speed boat. Submarine glides through the water nice and smooth, but a speed boat has this huge wave at the front as it tries to go forward. So, in swimming, eliminating or minimizing this bow wave is the key to swim faster (in other words - reducing drag).

You should feel like you are swimming downhill. It feels awkward, but it is the way to go. However, everyone is a bit different, so if you feel your feet are kicking air, you will need to ease off on the pressure of your chest and head into the water.

Regarding the use of the kickboard, you are better off kicking on your sides while looking down and maintaining your hips at the surface.

Here is a good article that explains it well: http://blog.swimator.com/2011/01/your-body-as-tree-log-correct-head.html

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