Swimming is not just a recreational activity; it is a sport that requires skill, technique, and discipline.

Good swimming habits are essential for success in the water. They can help you swim faster, conserve energy, and prevent injuries.

On the other hand, bad swimming habits can hold you back and limit your progress.

In this article, we will explore the top 10 bad swimming habits that you need to avoid to improve your swimming performance.

Why Bad Swimming Habits Can Hold You Back

Bad swimming habits can have a detrimental effect on your swimming performance. They can slow you down, cause fatigue, and increase the risk of injury.

female swimmer practicing Bad swimming habits in the water

When you develop bad habits, they become ingrained in your muscle memory, making it difficult to correct them later on.

It is important to be aware of these habits and take steps to overcome them. By breaking these habits, you can unlock your full swimming potential.

10 Bad Swimming Habits Swimmers Should Avoid

Habit 1: Improper Body Position

One of the most common bad swimming habits is improper body position in the water. Many swimmers tend to swim with their heads raised too high or their hips sinking, which creates drag and slows them down.

To improve your body position, focus on keeping your head in line with your body, your hips up, and your legs near the surface of the water. This will reduce resistance and allow you to move through the water more efficiently.

Habit 2: Incorrect Breathing Technique

Breathing is a fundamental aspect of swimming, and having an incorrect breathing technique can hinder your performance. Some swimmers hold their breath or exhale too late, leading to a lack of oxygen and increased fatigue.

To improve your breathing technique, practice exhaling continuously underwater and inhaling quickly and smoothly to the side. This will help you maintain a steady rhythm and conserve energy during your swims.

Habit 3: Using Too Much Leg Power

While leg strength is important in swimming, relying too much on your legs can be counterproductive.

Many swimmers kick too hard or too frequently, which can cause excessive drag and waste energy.

Instead, focus on using a steady and controlled kick that complements your arm movements. This will help you maintain balance and propulsion without wasting unnecessary energy.

Habit 4: Overreliance on Arm Strength

Swimmers often make the mistake of relying solely on their arm strength to propel themselves through the water. This can lead to fatigue and limited progress.

male swimmer relying too much on his arm while swimming

To overcome this habit, focus on using your entire body to generate power. Engage your core muscles, rotate your hips, and utilize the strength of your legs to enhance your arm movements. This will help you swim with more efficiency and speed.

Habit 5: Inefficient Kick Technique

A common bad habit among swimmers is having an inefficient kick technique. Some swimmers kick from their knees or have a wide and scissor-like kick, both of which can create drag and slow them down.

To improve your kick technique, practice kicking from your hips with a slight bend in your knees. Keep your legs close together and maintain a steady and rhythmic kick. This will help you generate more propulsion and swim faster.

Habit 6: Poor Body Rotation

Proper body rotation is crucial for a streamlined and efficient swim. Unfortunately, many swimmers have a tendency to swim flat, without rotating their bodies enough. This not only increases drag but also limits the power generated from their core muscles.

To improve your body rotation, practice rotating your hips and shoulders as you swim. This will allow you to engage your core muscles and maximize your propulsion in the water.

Habit 7: Lack of Rhythm and Timing

Swimming is more about rhythm and timing, and lacking in these areas can significantly impact your performance. Many swimmers have a choppy stroke or struggle to maintain a consistent pace.

To develop a better sense of rhythm and timing, practice swimming to a metronome or a swim coach’s count. This will help you synchronize your strokes, kicks, and breathing, leading to a smoother and more efficient swim.

Habit 8: Not Utilizing Your Core Muscles

Your core muscles are the powerhouse of your swimming stroke, yet many swimmers neglect to engage them fully. Weak core muscles can lead to a lack of stability and control in the water.

back view of a swimmer exercising his core muscles

To strengthen your core muscles, incorporate exercises like plank holds, Russian twists, and flutter kicks into your training routine. By utilizing your core muscles, you will swim with better stability, balance, and power.

Habit 9: Neglecting to Practice Drills

Drills are an essential part of swim training, but many swimmers neglect them in favor of swimming longer distances.

Drills help improve technique, body position, and efficiency in the water. Incorporate drills into your training sessions to target specific areas that need improvement.

Examples of drills include one-arm swimming, catch-up drill, and fingertip drag. By dedicating time to drills, you will develop better muscle memory and improve your overall swimming technique.

Habit 10: Ignoring Proper Recovery and Rest

Rest and recovery are often overlooked by swimmers who are eager to push their limits. However, inadequate rest can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and an increased risk of injury.

Make sure to include rest days in your training schedule and prioritize sleep and nutrition for optimal recovery.

Listen to your body and give it the time it needs to repair and rebuild. By incorporating proper recovery and rest into your routine, you will be able to swim with more energy and perform at your best.

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Negative Impacts of Practicing Bad Swimming Habits

  1. Strain and Stress on Your Body:

Bad swimming habits, such as incorrect stroke techniques and poor body positioning, can put undue strain and stress on your muscles and joints. This can result in discomfort, muscle cramps, and even injuries.

For example, constantly overreaching during your strokes can strain your shoulders, leading to painful conditions like swimmer’s shoulder.

Additionally, improper kicking techniques can strain your lower back and hips. To avoid these issues, it’s essential to focus on proper form and technique.

Consider taking lessons from a certified swim instructor or coach who can provide guidance and help you refine your strokes.

  1. Reduced Swimming Efficiency:

Efficiency in swimming is key, especially if you’re looking to improve your endurance and speed. Bad swimming habits often lead to wasted energy and reduced efficiency in the water.

Common issues include inefficient breathing patterns, excessive splashing, and erratic body movements. By addressing these bad habits and working on your stroke mechanics, you can become a more efficient swimmer.

Improved efficiency means you can swim longer distances with less effort, making your swimming sessions more enjoyable and rewarding.

  1. Increased Risk of Accidents:

Swimming in crowded pools or open water can be hazardous, especially if you are not in control of your movements.

swimmers swimming in a crowded water

Bad swimming habits, such as not looking where you’re going, can increase the risk of collisions with other swimmers.

Additionally, if you are not aware of your surroundings, you may unintentionally swim into dangerous areas or strong currents.

To stay safe, always be mindful of your surroundings, practice good swim etiquette, and follow any posted rules and guidelines at the swimming facility or open water location.

  1. Slower Progress and Frustration:

Building swimming skills and stamina takes time and practice. Bad habits can hinder your progress, leading to frustration and a lack of motivation.

Whether it’s struggling to master a particular stroke or constantly feeling fatigued due to poor breathing habits, these setbacks can be discouraging.

To make steady progress and enjoy your swim journey, be patient with yourself and stay committed to breaking bad habits.

Seek feedback from experienced swimmers or coaches to help identify areas for improvement.

  1. Missed Health Benefits:

Swimming offers numerous health benefits, including cardiovascular fitness, improved lung capacity, and muscle strength.

However, bad swimming habits can limit these benefits. If you’re not swimming effectively or efficiently, you may not experience the full spectrum of its positive health outcomes.

By developing, and improving your swimming skills and eliminating bad habits, you can maximize the health benefits of this low-impact exercise.

Tips and Strategies to Overcome Bad Swimming Habits

Breaking bad swimming habits can be challenging, but with dedication and practice, it is possible.

Here are some tips and strategies to help you overcome your bad habits and develop good swimming habits:

  1. Seek feedback: Work with a swim coach or experienced swimmer who can provide feedback and guidance on your technique.
  2. Set goals: Identify specific areas you want to improve and set realistic goals to track your progress.
  3. Practice drills: Incorporate drills into your training sessions to target and correct specific bad habits.
  4. Visualize success: Use visualization techniques to imagine yourself swimming with perfect technique and habits.
  5. Be patient: Breaking bad habits takes time and consistent effort. Stay committed and don’t get discouraged.

By implementing these strategies and staying focused on developing good swimming habits, you will see improvements in your overall swimming performance.

READ ALSO: Is Swimming in a Black Swimming Pool Healthy?

READ ALSO: 10 Important Aquatic Skills You Need to Know


In conclusion, swimming is a sport that requires discipline, technique, and good habits.

By avoiding the top 10 bad swimming habits discussed in this article and embracing good swimming habits, you can unlock your full swimming potential.

Remember to focus on your body position, breathing technique, kick, and body rotation. Utilize your core muscles, practice drills, and prioritize recovery and rest.

With dedication, practice, and a commitment to developing good habits, you will make waves in the water and reach new heights in your swimming journey.

To become a better swimmer, it’s important to recognize and break bad swimming habits. Don’t let these habits hold you back any longer.

Start implementing these tips and strategies today, and watch your swimming performance soar. Happy swimming!