Improve Distance Per Stroke (DPS)

DPS helps swimmers achieve the best times with the least effort.  Distance per stroke is just what it says, the distance your body travels with each stroke. It measures how efficiently you swim.  DPS is right next to streamlining in order of swimming importance. It is worth your time to focus on it during every single practice.

  • Count your strokes per lap.
  • Count your strokes often. (during warm up, short sets, long sets, distance sets, sprint sets, and warm down)  
  • Record your stroke count weekly in a notebook or in a memo on your phone. Show your coaches! 
  • COUNT.  You must know your stroke count (for every stroke) to improve it.  
  • Check your body position.  Your head should be in line with your spine.  Hips should be near the surface of water.
  • Improve your kick.  Work hard during kick sets. A strong kick will drive your stroke and relieve some stress on your arms.
  • Strengthen your core muscles and core stability. (plank, push ups, etc.)
  • Lengthen your stroke. Do not rush, or allow strokes to get choppy. 
  • Streamline. Streamline. Streamline. 
  • Check your catch.  You must hold water to carry your body forward. Pay attention to the resistance you feel on your hands and forearms.  Ask your coaches to evaluate your catch.
  • Do not be dishonest and try to lower your count by swimming incorrectly. (10 kick switch is not a true count)
  • Do not worry if it feels like you are slowing down a little at first.  It is more important to be efficient rather than fast when you are first working on DPS.  The speed will come.
  • Do not tense up. Stay smooth, glide, and feel the water.
  • Do not get frustrated. Be patient and keep counting.  
Talk to your coaches about what your ideal stroke count should be.  It varies among swimmers and of course depends on the stroke you are swimming.  

Watch the relay below. Focus on the streamlining and count strokes. Note that they are much bigger than age group swimmers, so your counts will be higher.