Ready to advance? Work on your freestyle stroke.
Unlike the breaststroke, breathing really matters here, says Scott Bay, head Masters coach for Team Blu Frog in Orlando, Florida. Many people tend to hold their breath for too long, which quickly causes them to become winded. The other common mistake, he says, is lifting the head too high out of the water. Facing forward causes the hips to drop so that the body is no longer horizontal. Practice using the lane lines and side pool markings to get your bearings so that you won't need to constantly look ahead.
Learn to turn.
While the flip turn is illegal in breast stroke competitions, it's a graceful and efficient way to turn around when swimming freestyle. Having trouble? You're not alone: "Some of the best swimmers on the planet who have been swimming for 30 years will still turn too late during a competition and mess up the flip turn," says Bay, who also works with U.S. Masters Swimming to certify coaches. There's no one trick that accommodates every swimmer’s speed, height and arm length, but he does suggest these pointers: