Swim Type 2: The Bambino

“you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin To Pooh

The Bambino


The Bambino is often but by no means always female, of small to light build with limited swimming experience. Co-ordination in the water is a key concern and learning to improve their rhythm, timing and catch will really aid this. In terms of limited experience, the Bambino is equivalent to The Arnie but with a distinctly different temperament and much lower power.

Quick Facts:

  • Lacks “oomph”
  • Slow gentle stroke
  • Very poor feel for the water giving rotary arm stroke
  • Struggles to breathe from lack of lead arm support
  • Swims between 1:50 to 2:30 per 100m

How To Spot One:

  • Slips through the water at the front of the stroke giving a rotary style
  • Often but not always female
  • Seen pausing at the end of the pool to catch their breath.


Lacking in confidence but gets a big buzz from overcoming challenges and swimming well. Due to limited swimming experience, confidence in the water is lacking.

Bambino Common Characteristics:

  • A very gentle swim stroke which lacks “oomph”.
  • A rotary / windmill style of arm stroke which lacks catch and hold at the front end of the stroke.
  • The lack of purchase at the front means the lead hand tends to collapse offering little support whilst breathing. Bambinos often struggle with breathing for this reason.
  • Typically a wide and deep arm pull through, relying heavily on the shoulder muscle groups to pull them through the water.
  • Very limited body rotation and lifts head noticeably to breathe often looking to the sky / ceiling.
  • Typically a better body position than the Arnie by virtue of a lower muscle mass being more conducive to flotation.
  • Really struggles in open water (e.g. triathlon swim starts) due to limited confidence and lack of rhythm in the stroke.
  • Limited swimming experience and low enjoyment of swimming.
  • Swimming speed is typically 1:50 to 2:30 per 100m.

Male Bambinos

Poor feel at the front of the stroke means the Bambino’s front arm tends to collapse – making breathing very challenging. Although female Bambinos are more common than males, there are plenty of guys out there who fit this type very well. As with all Bambinos, the key to improving is by increasing feel at the front of the stroke and introducing more rhythm.

Propulsion First For The Bambino

Many coaches and swimming dogmas view the Bambino’s short stroke and try and length it out by introducing glide. This is a mistake because it causes the Bambino to further lose touch with the rhythm of the stroke. Instead, it is much better for these swimmers to focus on developing their catch – an exercise normally left to much faster swimmers. Catch and feel for the water is important because they are almost completely lacking in this department. When you get the hang of it, swimming is great fun – and very rewarding! Once the Bambino has improved their feel for the water and their stroke’s rhythm, they can then look to lengthen out their stroke appropriately. You can see such a swimmer ready to do this in our ‘Developed Bambino’ video clip above.

When you get the hang of it, swimming is great fun – and very rewarding!

Stroke Correction Guides

Our Bambino Stroke Correction Guide includes all the support, drills and techniques you need to build up your confidence in the water and develop your stroke technique. There is nothing generic or cookie-cutter in the guide. Each method, drill and visualisation is carefully chosen to target your unique make-up as a swimmer – working on such areas as you breathing technique and support in the water. You’ll enjoy following each of the four included training sessions, they give you a nice straightforward process to follow and build up your swimming step by step. The guide is supplied as a digital download straight to your email inbox. You can view the guide immediately on your computer or print it out if that’s easier to read. Find out more here.
Swim Smooth’s Swim Types:

BAMBINO Stroke Correction & Training Guide

Just the Ticket

Download our full stroke development and stroke training guide for the Bambino Swim Type

Areas To Work On:

  • Swimming as often as possible to boost confidence.
  • Although mentally challenging for the Bambino, proper training sets are a great way to boost confidence and feel good about their swimming. An increase in a Bambino’s confidence always reflects positively on their stroke.
  • Improving rhythm and timing to develop a more rhythmical positive action, achieve this by lifting stroke rate by 3-8 strokes per minute. A Tempo Trainer Pro is extremely valuable to achieve this – an increase in stroke rate (strokes per minute) normally makes swimming feel easier for the Bambino, not harder.
  • Develop more feel and support at the front of the stroke using sculling and doggy paddle drills.
  • Increased positivity in the arm stroke to give greater propulsion.


Confidence is everything to a Bambino. Stroke improvements lead to improved speed and endurance which lead to boosted confidence and so further improvements. If this ‘Virtuous Circle’ can be created for the Bambino they can become an extremely proficient swimmer. Care must always be taken to maintain and develop arm stroke propulsion from improved feel for the water. This is important to avoid the tendency to move towards less efficient kick based propulsion as demonstrated by the Kicktastic Type.

When you get the hang of it, swimming is great fun – and very rewarding!

Do You Know A Bambino?

Bambinos are an extremely common Swim Type. Unfortunately traditional stroke correction methods focusing on lengthening their strokes are very ineffective for them. Because of this they often feel frustrated or despondent. If you know a Bambino please let them know about this site! It’s often much easier to recognise traits in others than ourselves so give them a quick prompt in this direction and let us get to work on improving their swimming with a program that will work for them.