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Developing Style

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


Aug 17, 2002
hi everybody

i was just a few weeks ago introduced to this fabulous website (thanx erik Y. :D ) and have spent a great deal of time reading and trying to learn and improve .

one topic though, which i personally believe to be very important, i could hardly find in the forum.

let me explain :

beeing a beginner freediver myself and (until recently) without any sort of guidance i spent a great amount of time just trying to figure things out by myself.

in various threads there are lenghty discussions on breathup techniques, relaxation and concentration procedures, nutrition and so forth. and all that is extremely interesting i have to say.

what i find missing is a discussion on swimming style. i spent 3 months in thailand this year and a great part of my time i tried to figure out in what way i could move more efficiently underwater.

the more i worked on that the more complicated the task seemed to become.

the simple question of whether to swim with arms forward or not keeps me busy to this day.

there are so many details i try to concentrate on and i want to name just a few :
- kicking cycle : how fast do i kick. do i use the blades natural rebound for extra forward movement?
- kicking width : do wider kicks slow me down cause i´m less streamlined?
- blade twist : as i kick are the blades beeing twisted, does it help if i spread my legs a little to lessen turbulence?
- legmovement : how much do i kick out of the hips, the knee, the ankle ?
- body and arm position : is a completely relaxed position streamlined enough ?

then of course there are the different demands : do i just go on a cruise or do i go for a deep pb, or dynamic or whatever else one is doing to enjoy the blue.

as a beginner i think that developing a good personal swimming style is very important. if i can hold my breath for x minutes a efficient swim will definitely get me further or deeper while beeing more relaxed for a longer time meaning i´ll enjoy the dive a lot longer.

unfortunately i´m not blessed with having a great many experienced freedivers in my neighborhood from whom to learn or copy. therefore i hope to get some different opinions and maybe some new ideas or suggestions that way.

i want to encourage anybody, beginner to pro, to please share some thoughts with me.

wishing you all some deep and clear water


Ask an expert


I recommend talking to Sebastien Murat (homo_aquaticus@hotmail.com). He has spent years working on exactly the same issues you are talking about.

Be warned though; Sebastien uses a very different style than most freedivers. He is not copying a dolphin or a whale, he is copying eels and seals. Whales and dolphins have monofins; seals and eels don't. If you copy a whale or a dolphin, you need a middle-stiffness monofin or bifins. If you copy an eel or a seal, you need very soft mono/bifins.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Kicking... I have found my own style through trial and error.. and well reading these posts, thank you all!
The best way is to find the balance between gliding and kicking, for that information, or good way to explore is to try diving without fins.
wether to swim/dive arms on your side or not... I found out that Apnea academys course suggested to keep hands on your side, for example when coming up.. I keep hands up it just goes faster...
I just try to find the relaxed position, sometimes when swimming at depth Ikeep my hands relaxed and let them slow me down..
For more time at depth and enjoyment I think the right weights for your dives are most essential..
I use pretty quick and short kick and glide for a while in between..
when you start you CW dive at the surface you need to use bit more power to get started..
Well that's my 2c..

safe diving!
eels ???

that´s the first time i heard of that and i wrote to murat already. look forward to his reply. sounds extremely funky, copying eels.

about armposition : so far i figured out that when doing distance dives the energy i save by having my arms alongside my body outweighs the higher resistance in the water. means i get further that way. my swimtime is around 90 seconds.

i just recently started doing some cw dives but i don´t have the experience yet on which style to prefer. so far arms are back.

but then again on a 65 second 30 meter dive maybe it would make a positive difference to have the arms forward. any suggestions ??

as for kicks : i also try to do rather shallow kicks to avoid having my legs slow me down too much as they move out of the slipstream.

as you said trial and error is probably the way to go since evrybody has different strengths and weaknesses. but any advice or suggestion on what to try or pay attention to is highly welcome.

cheers guys


Sebastien's reply

Please post Sebastien's reply when you get it. This is an extremely interesting topic. I have seen video of Sebastien's swimming style and it is very streamlined.
Arms at side

I'm also interested in this topic. Being a former competitive swimmer, I have always believed that a tight streamline with arms overhead is most efficient and tend to keep one arm overhead while I freedive, using the other to pinch for equalizaiton. Of course, since I dive in spring caverns typically, the hand overhead has a safety function as well (collisions with limestone are uncomfortable).

Others have advised me that the energy to extend arms overhead is not worth the additional efficiency, especially when you have to fight a tight wetsuit to do it.

Watching films of dynamic apnea record setters, I notice that even in a warm swimming pool where a thick wetsuit is unnecessary, many use an arms-at-the-side position. I take it from this that the energy expended is still not worth the efficiency.

I suppose the difference is that a competitive swimmer is trying to optimize speed, and so anything that reduces drag in medium 800 times as dense as air is worth the energy expended. And in swimming, you can take as much air as needed for aerobic metabolism. But, when finning anaerobically, slowly to maximize distance, streamlining is not as critical as energy conservation.

Is my reasoning correct? -Some of you competitors will know this straight away.
Last edited:
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Originally posted by immerlustig
a great part of my time i tried to figure out in what way i could move more efficiently underwater.


There's your answer, Roland. Time doing it.
Add some smoothness and you're Golden.

I've done a little bit of monofin swimming, and did OK in my first ever comp. For speed arms forward is a must. When I do dynamics, even with a monofin, I find it much more relaxed to have arms by your side, I get a better distance that way.

For depth dives, on the descent, having your arms forward does not take much energy !
Gravity is doing the work for you. Going up however does take energy to keep your arms upright, so I don't do it.

Unfortunately, I have to keep my hand to my nose to equalize all the way down, so I use one arm pointing down, and my other hand to my nose, arm tucked in close to my body.

I was training with the rest of the Australian team on the weekend, and had a few comments that I looked very streamlined that way, and traveled quite quickly thru the water.

When I practice in a pool, I have a habit of putting my hands to my sides and making movements with my hands like flutter kicks (obviously not for the dolphin kick). Does anyone else have this habit?
Margo Femrite said:
When I practice in a pool, I have a habit of putting my hands to my sides and making movements with my hands like flutter kicks (obviously not for the dolphin kick). Does anyone else have this habit?
:) If it's what I think it is then I did it in the first few days I freedove for real (not 6m snorkeling). The habbit died pretty soon after though.
lol, it's taking my life time for it to die pretty quickly :)
It is actually how I taught myself to swim as a child, while most were learning the Doggy-paddle I was swimming underwater (right after I learned to float :hmm.)
It wasn't until recently that I started to try not to use my hands. I'm finding it difficult.
But I am curious as to whether that will change after I start doing dives downward rather than sideways... (and with the use of fins)
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