Swimming is a drag—literally. The more water your body pulls along with it, the longer it will take you to get from one end of the pool to the other. Lucky for you, even the slightest adjustment in form can deliver huge returns in efficiency, says Emmett Hines, a masters swim coach who leads swim camps across the country and author of Fitness Swimming. Accelerate your pool learning curve with these freestyle swimming tips from Hines. —Alyssa Shaffer
Keep your head down. At no time—even when taking a breath—should more than one-fourth of your head be above water.
Toe the line. Inflated lungs cause your upper body to float like a buoy. To level out your body, press your chest down, which will raise your hips up. Think about maintaining a straight line from your head down to your legs.
Swim on your side. To reduce drag, glide from one side of your body to the other. Spend as little time as possible flat in the water.
Hand off. Don't start your next stroke until the other hand has left the water.
Follow through. Instead of losing steam halfway through your stroke, keep pulling through the water with your hand until your thumb brushes the side of your thigh. The more water you can catch and pull with your hands, the faster you'll go. Work from your core. Use your hips and torso—your power center—to initiate the side-to-side motion. Your legs and arms take their cues from there.