If you want to teach yourself to swim and don’t have access to a swim coach or can’t take swimming lessons, there’s still a lot you can do to improve on your own.
The tips on this page will help you to learn how to swim or improve your swimming technique by yourself. So let’s get started.
Swim Tips for the Autodidact
Tip #1: Even if a swim coach isn’t available, always practice in a safe environment. This often means exercising in a supervised swimming pool.
Swimming in a pool is also less stressful than in open water because you can see through the water.
Tip #2: Practice the series of swimming drills for each stroke in the learn how to swim section on this site.
Tip #3: Wear swimming goggles. You’ll be more relaxed because you can keep the eyes open without getting water in them.
Tip #4: Decompose complex movements into their components and practice those independently.
For example, practice arm movements independently from leg movements. Or practice the arm movements one side at a time.
Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to use swim helpers such as swimming noodles, fins, etc. to isolate some components of your swim stroke, even if you think you’d look silly.
Once you have learned a new swim stroke while other people are stuck with breaststroke, you won’t look silly anymore.
However, make sure those helpers don’t become crutches you always need to rely on. Don’t become the guy that can only swim with a pull buoy.
Tip #6: Why not use dry-land training at home to study new swimming stroke movements you need to learn?
At home, you can rehearse new arm stroke movements while standing or leg movements while sitting or lying on the floor without anybody watching.
With the Internet, you have access to learning resources at home you don’t necessarily have access to at the pool.
Tip #7: Use visualization while rehearsing those swimming movements at home.
That way you will already have memorized and know the movements to practice while you teach yourself to swim at the pool.
Tip #8: Be creative while devising new exercises to practice individual stroke movements. Again, trying out new things may sometimes be awkward, but it can be a lot of fun too.
Tip #9: Indeed, never forget to have fun while you teach yourself to swim. If things don’t work out as expected, have a laugh, try again, or try something else.
Tip #10: Learn as much as you can about swimming. Nowadays, you have access to excellent books, websites (this one comes to mind) and even videos of great swimmers which are only one click away.
It is so much easier to learn how to swim in today’s world, with all those resources available.
Tip #11: If you can afford it, get a waterproof digital camera (or a waterproof case for your existing camera). Then ask a friend to record a video of you swimming. Seeing yourself swimming is a great way to become aware of your mistakes.
I use a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 (now superseded by the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS6/FT6) for my recordings. They are among the best waterproof cameras currently available.
Tip #12: Don’t hesitate to ask your swim buddies about particular aspects of your technique. They often see and know the mistakes you do that you aren’t aware of yourself.
Tip #13: If you can find a good swim coach, don’t hesitate to sign up for swimming lessons. A good coach can make you progress much faster.
The problem is knowing what makes a good swim coach. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about swimming so you can assess a coach’s strengths and weaknesses.
That’s it. I hope that with the swim tips I have given you on this page, you’ll be able to teach yourself to swim successfully. If you want to get started, browse our learn how to swim pages.
Friday 27th of October 2017
How do you keep your body level in the water? I slope downwards.
Saturday 28th of October 2017
This is taught in our swimming exercises series for the freestyle stroke
Thursday 10th of November 2016
Well, I guess I learned a lot from the swimming tips above.
Tuesday 24th of July 2012
I like what I just read about swimming. Please wish me luck, because I would like to learn how to float in the water.
Sunday 29th of July 2012
Well good luck then Dorothy! :)