Swim Smooth’s Swim Types: concept

An insight into your individual swimming

Swim Types gives you an overall blueprint for your stroke, showing you how it fits together as a whole. Once you have identified your type the Swim Type system becomes very powerful because it gives you highly accurate, targeted advice to improve your individual stroke.

Swim Smooth understand your individual stroke, how it feels and what’s holding you back

Many swimmers are frustrated that the stroke technique advice they have received has not helped their swimming. Despite their hard work, their swimming speed and efficiency hasn’t improved a much as they would like. Swim Types shows you that this happens when that well meant advice is better suited to another type of swimmer.

Swim Types presents six fundamental styles – or types – of stroke.

Each type is distinct with different underlying stroke issues. Our deep understanding of each type is contained in our Stroke Correction Guides. The guides – one for each type – give you the understanding, techniques, drills and training sessions you need to improve your swimming.

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Video Introduction

Evolution Or Revolution?

Swim Types recognises that swimmers have a strong tendency towards their type based on build, height, age, personality and experience. Based on these individual factors, the Swim Type Guides show you the way to develop your stroke bit by bit. The process is evolution, not revolution.

The path to improvement isn’t to tear up your current style and wake up tomorrow and swim like the Smooth type. This would be extraordinarily difficult and its very likely you would end up slower, less efficient and plain frustrated.

The Un-Coached Athlete

Many swimmers are not fortunate enough to be training under an experienced coach who can guide their development. If you are such a swimmer, the Swim Types system is perfect for you.

Without a coach it is very hard to perceive which aspects of your stroke need attention. Equally you can be overly focused on areas of your stroke that are already strong and are not holding you back. By identifying your type we’ll get you focused on the right areas of your stroke with the very best techniques, visualisations and drills available.

Swim Types offers the un-coached athlete unique insight.

The Different Swim Types

Read our Profile Descriptions For Each Type


Swim Type 1


Swim Type 2


Swim Type 3


Swim Type 4


Swim Type 5


Swim Type 6

The types covers the full range of abilities

All Ability Levels

The Types cover the full range of swimming ability from those just able to swim freestyle up to elite athletes. The chart on the right gives typical speed ranges for each style. Most people learning to swim freestyle initially develop a Bambino or Arnie style of stroke. Elite swimmers are normally the Smooth type or a refined version of the Swinger. Elite open water swimmers and professional triathletes are most likely to be Swingers.

What’s The Ideal Type?

Swimmers have traditionally aspired to be the Smooth Swim Type. Their long smooth strokes move them seemingly effortlessly through the water. Extremely talented swimmers such as Alexander Popov and Ian Thorpe typify this style. However, the Swinger type, particularly when combined with a 2-beat kick is arguably as quick, especially for medium to shorter height swimmers. Many of the middle and distance freestyle greats – such a Laure Manadou and Janet Evans have a refined Swinger style. Notable male examples are Ky Hurst and David Davis.


One of the most fascinating aspects of Swim Types is how the different types tend to have distinct personality traits. This hints at how and why particular stroke characteristics come about in individual swimmers. Personality has a big part to play in Swim Types.

Find out more about personality traits on each of the Swim Type pages
Frustrated Chatty Happy Go Lucky Nervous Driven Confident

For Coaches

Swim Smooth originally developed the Swim Type system to train swimming and triathlon coaches. Swim Types allows coaches to quickly identify a swimmer’s type and then give them high quality, tried and tested methods to improve their stroke technique. Any coach can spot individual problems with a swimmer’s stroke but what do you tackle first? What is cause and what’s effect? Swim Types gives coaches clear effective methods to refer to, whatever type and ability level of swimmer they are working with.

Seems Too Simple?

Swim Smooth have been developing and refining the Swim Type system since 2008. It has been extensively tested and refined by our coaching team through our consultations with thousands of swimmers. The types really do identify six fundamental ways in which people swim freestyle. The system appears deceptively simple and to make things fun and memorable we use cartoons, caricature names and some light hearted humour on this site. Don’t mistake this to mean that we’ve thrown this system together in a light hearted manner. Quite the opposite – it’s the result of thousands of collective hours of coaching experience and insight.

Typical Progressions

One of the interesting things about Swim Types is that as a swimmer develops they often transition between types. For instance it is common for a Bambino to become a Kicktastic and for Arnies to become Overgliders.

We’ve summarised that in the chart below: