Why is the Sweet Spot SOOOOO important and why do we keep talking about it to the point where it warrants back-to-back blog posts?!?! Because the Sweet Spot is the key that unlocks swimming efficiency.
Swimming efficiency is a competitive advantage for athletes and a survival strategy for the rest of us. Efficiency in the water starts with balance. It’s not about having the strongest kick or biggest pull. Balance is floating but it’s more than just staying on the surface. Being on the surface is the default position.
Balance is first taught in Level 2 with front and back floats. These are the easiest balance positions to learn because they provide the most surface area to work with. Front and back floats are like riding a bicycle. The Sweet Spot side float is like learning to ride a unicycle. It’s about countering the unbalanced part of the body. This makes the sweet spot a difficult yet critical position to master when learning how to swim.
The Sweet Spot is the single most important position in freestyle and backstroke. These strokes, when performed well, are really all about swimming side to side. The finish of each of these strokes is in the sweet spot or side balance position. A proper sweet spot is a swimmer’s rest position in freestyle and backstroke.
In the Sweet Spot position, a person is stretched out as long as possible on their side with their head turned just enough towards the sky so they can breathe while their feet engage in a very small flutter kick. In the Learn-to-Swim Program, swimmers learn how to perform the Sweet Spot on both sides of the body. Most people have one side that feels more natural which is completely normal. Students learn Sweet Spot on both sides because our swimmers learn how to breathe bi-laterally in Level 5!
What the Sweet Spot Looks Like:
- Head is in line with the spine in a neutral position, chin up slightly
- Eyes are looking up towards the ceiling; tip of the nose facing the ceiling
- Top hip is up at/near the surface of the water
- Arm closest to bottom of the pool is extended in streamline in line with the head and NOT moving
- Arm closest to ceiling is extended down the side and NOT moving, resting on the thigh
- The top facing shoulder is dry out of water or at the water surface
Common Sweet Spot Mistakes to Correct:
- Under or over-rotation – either rolling too far onto stomach or back reverting to the front or back float
- If the chin is tucked too much swimmer’s body will look like a curved “C”
How a parent can coach and be supportive outside lessons:
- Remind your child it’s okay to feel uncomfortable and awkward when practicing the Sweet Spot – it’s an entirely new position for the body. The body is smart and will learn to feel comfortable the more time they can spend in the Sweet Spot!
- When your child is swimming outside of lessons, encourage them to roll onto their side to take a breath instead of standing up or flipping all the way onto their back. Any free swim time where your child cannot easily touch the bottom is awesome learning time!
Overall, Sweet Spot competency builds endurance and improves one’s ability to swim longer distances. Although the Sweet Spot is a skill first learned in Level 4, it continues to be practiced and further developed and honed throughout the rest of the Learn-to-Swim program levels.