How to swim faster using INCUS | NOVA

How to swim faster using INCUS | NOVA

Want to swim faster? We show you how INCUS | NOVA reveals the flaws in your swimming technique.

Your swim times don’t necessarily give you an indication of how good your technique is or, more importantly, how you can improve it. It used to be very hard to gain an understanding of your swim technique without the help of a coach watching from the poolside or extensive video equipment, but using your NOVA has transformed that. 

We’ll take a look at some of the most common issues beginner swimmers have with their swim technique and show you how these metrics can help you to swim faster 

Problem: Sinking legs slowing you down

INCUS metric: Body Pitch 

Sinking hips and legs is one of the biggest issues amongst beginner swimmers, but even experienced swimmers and triathletes can improve their body position. 

Imagine if you pulled open a parachute behind you – that is the same effect as your legs dragging through the water. If your legs and hips are too far below your head, the amount of drag on your body is drastically increased. 

Body Pitch is what we use to measure the position of your hips and legs in the water. Zero degrees means your body is perfectly flat with the water’s surface and we want to be as close to this value as possible. 

Swimmer underwater

To stop sinking legs focus on head position, core strength, ankle flexibility and even improving how your hand enters the water and pulls through in your catch. Look out for our videos on how to do this. 

Use your INCUS | NOVA to monitor how changing your body position by engaging your core and elevating your hips and legs can lower your pitch to reduce drag.  While experimenting with changes to your technique check other swim metrics such as swim economy and pace to see how these change as you work towards swimming faster. 

Problem: Lack of forward propulsion or shoulder pain 

INCUS metric: Body Roll

As you reach your arm forward to enter the water your body rolls, and with each alternate stroke your body moves from side to side. This can be increased when you are breathing during a stroke. The amount your body rolls and your rotation in the water, can affect the power of your stroke, your drag in the water and the strain on your shoulders. Good rotation in freestyle is essential for a smooth, efficient stroke but it is difficult to measure objectively without a tool such as the NOVA. 


Improving your rotation during freestyle could reduce your injury risk as well as increase stroke propulsion and decrease your drag. If you under rotate, you’re placing too much stress on your shoulder and arms and not utilising your stronger chest and back muscles.

Over rotating can cause you to not utilise your body effectively in propulsion. Body Roll is what we use to measure this and we’re aiming to have between 40 – 60 degrees of rotation on both left and right sides. 

Try experimenting with your rotation in the pool to see how it feels and so you can watch how it affects your other swim metrics.  Adding single arm drills into your swim sessions can help you to become more aware of your rotation and understand what 40 – 60 degrees feels like when you are swimming. Use data from your INCUS NOVA to identify your rotation and any asymmetries from left to right and monitor how working on this affects your Swim Economy metric.

User looking at the INCUS | Cloud app

Problem: Slowing down at the end of each stroke 

INCUS metric: Stroke Rate

Do you know what your stroke rate is or how it can affect your swimming technique? If your stroke rate is too low, you are likely to have a pause at the end of your stroke. A long glide phase where you are not propelling yourself through the water creates a dead spot and will slow you down. If your stroke rate is too high it is likely you are not performing your stroke as efficiently as possible – so you are using a lot of energy to work harder but not swimming faster. 

The optimum stroke rate is individual, but for triathletes we’d be looking for a stroke rate of between 65 – 80 spm (stroke per minute), with elite athletes hitting 90! To work out your own optimal stroke rate you need to look at it alongside other swim metrics to see how they are improved by changing your stroke rate.

Try changing your stroke rate during your session and use your INCUS|NOVA to identify how that change affects your Body Pitch, Body Roll and Swim Economy to help identify the optimum stroke rate for you.

Improve your technique

To learn more about improving your speed experiment with swimming fast and see how a faster swimming speed changes your metrics. You can then break your technique down in different training sessions to work on specific aspects and monitor how these changes improve individual metrics and overall swimming times.

When in the INCUS | CLOUD app use the info button in the corner of the display when you check each metric for more insights and swimming tips and look out for more swimming advice from INCUS-enabled pro-athletes in our blog section.

Learn more about the full INCUS experience here.

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