When performing stroke analysis on my clients I pick up on similar mistakes and issues with swimmers.
Here are a few common mistakes I see:
1. Crossing over
This is a big problem when you start swimming in open water, as this means you will not be able to swim in a straight line. As your fingertips enter the water you should be extending your arm in line with the shoulder. I tell my swimmers to imagine their body is a clock, the centre of their body is 12 o'clock. There arms inline with their shoulders are one and eleven o'clock. When your arm enters the water you need to be entering at one and eleven o'clock, if you start to drift over to 12 o' clock you will crossover which will create an inefficiency in your stroke and make it harder for you to swim straight.
See from photo how the arm has drifted over.
2. Timing of breathing/ Arm dropping in water when breathing
Other than breathing in when your head comes out of the water, the most important part is the timing. If your arm falls underneath you in the water your head might lift out of the water or turn too much to stop you from sinking in the water. (See from the photo above how head is looking up too high.)
To prevent this from happening count in your head as your finger tips enter the water 1, 2, breathe. This will ensure your head rotates in the water at the same time as your body rotates and arm extends.
3. Head Lifting too high when breathing
Following on from point number 2. You should be aiming to look at the pool desk when you turn your head to breathe. Next time you go for a swim get your friend to walk along side of you in level with your chest and look towards their feet when you breath. If you can see the ceiling you are looking too high.
See from this short clip how close the eye line is to the side of the pool.
4. Inefficient leg kick
Swimmers who have been swimming with bad habits for years or who swim with a pull buoy in between their legs more often than without, tend to have a lazy kick that is not efficient in the water. Where as my swimmers that are new to swimming or have done very little as an adult tend to kick too much in an inefficient way that takes up too much energy. Take it back to basics and work on your leg kick with drills such as pushing off from the side focusing on your shoulders, hips and feet being in one long line. Once you feel comfortable with pushing off from the side add your leg kick to the push off, keeping your ankles and knees relaxed. To aid you in relaxing your ankle and creating a fluid movement from the hip, invest in a pair of fins. I recommend these from finis- https://www.athleteshop.co.uk/finis-floating-fins they are slightly longer and are very flexible.
5. Holding your breath
You wouldn’t hold you breathe when you run, so why are you going to when you swim?
As discussed in point one about counting your arm stroke. Rather than counting 1,2 breathe you can try counting bubble bubble breathe will remind you to breathe out. I find this slows my swimmers down who rush to get to the other side as they are gasping for air.
To make sure you are exhaling enough in the water try this exercise.
For you to sink down to the floor, you have to exhale strongly either from your nose or mouth.
If you do not exhale enough you will resurface before you touch the bottom.
Next time you are in the pool make sure you are not experiencing any of these issues in your stroke.