Swimming with Different Head Positions

When you swim front crawl you are able to hold your head in different positions as you swim – anywhere from a high head position looking far forwards:

To a mid-position looking at the bottom of the pool 1-2 meters in front of you:

Through to a low head position looking straight downwards:

Which should you use? You will hear different advice from different sources. In the early days of swimming everyone was told to keep their head really high and that can certainly work for some swimmers with excellent body positions and/or a powerful leg kick.

In the 1990s it became fashionable for everyone to look straight downwards, the idea here was that by keeping the head low it helps bring the legs upwards at the rear:

This certainly can help swimmers with sinky legs but comes at the cost of not being able to see very far forwards and a loss of awareness of what your hands/arms are doing at the front of the stroke. And for swimmers with good natural buoyancy it can actually bring you too high at the rear and make you feel unbalanced.

So which should you use? We can exclusively reveal that, well, it depends!

If you are a swimmer with good natural buoyancy who sits high in the water (many female swimmers are in this category) then we recommend keeping the head a little higher and looking two to three metres forwards at the bottom of the pool. You will still be able to keep your body position high but will maintain your balance in the water.

For sinky-legged swimmers then try looking a little more downwards to help bring the legs up. Also work on your leg kick technique as this can have a huge effect on your body position. Over time as your stroke improves you might find you can successfully use a higher head position without sinking the legs and we recommend we do so to help development of other areas of your stroke.

But the best way to decide isn’t to take our word for it but to try it yourself:

Which feels better for you?

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