Swim Speed Strokes for Swimmers and Triathletes

Master Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle for Your Fastest Swimming

By Sheila Taormina


In Swim Speed Strokes, Taormina shows how swimmers can swim their fastest in all four competitive swimming strokes; backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, and freestyle.


In her best-selling book Swim Speed Secrets, 4-time Olympian and gold medalist Sheila Taormina revealed the freestyle swimming technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers.

Now in Swim Speed Strokes, Taormina shows swimmers and triathletes how they can swim with elite technique in all four swimming strokes—butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Using crystal-clear photographs and her engaging, straightforward style, Coach Taormina explains the science behind power and speed in the water, explores the elements common to every stroke, and examines stroke technique in detail in individual stroke chapters.

Swim Speed Strokes goes deep into the fastest swimming technique for each stroke, breaking down the pull, kick, core movement, and timing of 13 elite swimmers and Olympians including Peter Vanderkaay, Rebecca Soni, Aaron Peirsol, Rowdy Gaines, Ashley Whitney, Vlad Morozov, Ariana Kukors, Andrew Gemmell, Laura Sogar, Nicolas Fink, Elizabeth Beisel, Doug Reynolds, and Melanie Margalis.

Taormina interviews each athlete and analyzes underwater photos and race stroke data to break down their technique in butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. From the catch through the curvilinear path and diagonal phase to the power-packed finish phase, Taormina explores the pull patterns to show how any swimmer can improve their own swimming.

As Taormina shows in Swim Speed Strokes, the fastest technique for all four swimming strokes is remarkably similar. One-stroke swimmers will find big improvements in practicing the others, refining their feel for the water, coordination, and stroke efficiency. Whether you want to master every stroke or simply improve on your best one, Swim Speed Strokes will show you how to become the strongest swimmer you can be.

For more Swim Speed articles, reader questions, drill videos, tips on swimming technique, FAQs, and favorite drills of elite swimmers, please visit the Swim Speed Series page here.

Swim Speed Strokes for Swimmers and Triathletes
Sheila Taormina
Foreword by Rowdy Gaines
Paperback. Full-color photographs throughout.
7″ x 9″, 224 pp., $21.95, 9781937715212

Swim Speed Strokes for Swimmers and Triathletes: Master Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle for Your Fastest Swimming

Sheila Taormina

Paperback. Foreword by Rowdy Gaines. Full-color interior with photographs throughout.

Shipping Dimensions: 7.00in x 9.00in x .5in 224pp $21.95, Inventory 9781937715212, Shipping 1.3lbs

Foreword by Rowdy Gaines

1 Understanding the Why
2 The Look and Feel of Lift and Drag
3 The Kick, Core Movement, and Connection
4 Stroke Data
5 Butterfly
6 Backstroke
7 Breaststroke
8 Freestyle

Conclusion: Adopting Elite Technique
Appendix A: Sighting Technique for Open-Water Events
Appendix B: Sprint Freestyle: Straight-Arm Technique
About the Author

Preview book.

“The best teachers in the world use various modalities to deliver information to their students. In this case, the prominent feature that makes Swim Speed Strokes special is the extraordinary still photos of today’s world-class swimmers…The photos are crystal clear, thorough, and presented from angles that reflect the superb knowledge-base of the author…Swim Speed Strokes is the best current resource on the market. It will add to the coach’s knowledge base, to the coach’s internalized picture of what the strokes should look like, and it will add the exact same contribution to your athletes.” — American Swim Coaches Association

“Sheila Taormina presents the how and why of swimming in her latest book, Swim Speed Strokes. The focus of the book is technique presented in an engaging way… Taormina combines psychology, sports science and photography to create an accessible read for audiences of any age or sport.” — USA Swimming’s SPLASH magazine

“Sheila Taormina may be the greatest athlete in the modern Olympic era. She’s the only person I know who has made four Olympic teams in three different sports.” — Jim Richardson, Head Coach of the University of Michigan women’s swim team

“Sheila T. is just 5′ 2″ but she swims like she is 6′ 2″. We still use her as a model for our swimmers today on how to swim the strokes.” — Jack Bauerle, Team USA Olympic Swim Coach and Head Coach of the University of Georgia swim team

“The concept of ‘holding’ water and generating propulsion is fundamental to swimming performance, and Sheila’s book clearly unlocks the secrets of this through words and vivid underwater photos. It is what every top swimmer trains and searches for each day at practice, and it is what allowed me to win Olympic medals as a teenager and into my 40s.” — Dara Torres, 12-time Olympic medalist

“Sheila’s book Swim Speed Secrets is the best swim manual—PERIOD!” — Ashley Whitney, Olympic Gold Medalist

“Swim Speed Workouts is the pool version of in-home workout videos. The cards can be used by beginning to experienced swimmers or triathletes training independently of a coach, or provide easy illustrations of drills and tubing exercises for coaches to share with their swimmers.” — USA Swimming’s SPLASH magazine

“Freestyle gone funky on you? Stuck in a rut where you can’t seem to get faster? Swim Speed Secrets could be the cure for the freestyle blues. Master swimmers and coaches at every level can learn something from this book…Both the book and [the Swim Speed Workouts] training program are outstanding.” — USMS Swimmer magazine

“With Sheila’s help, you can stop swimming for survival and start swimming like a pro.” — Laura Bennett, 2010 ITU #1-ranked swimmer, four-time ITU World Triathlon Championship medalist, Olympian, and two-time U.S. triathlon champion

“Sheila Taormina’s ideas on swimming have influenced me and my swim coaching more than anyone else. Her knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm are unmatched.” — Siri Lindley, ITU Triathlon World Champion and coach to triathlon world champions and Olympic medalists

“[Swim Speed Secrets] is a ripper! [It was] great to get a no-b.s. perspective on swimming from a champion.” — Chris McCormack, 2-time Ironman® World Champion

“Sheila possesses a great depth of knowledge and passion about swimming that she has often shared with me and many other athletes.” — Leanda Cave, ITU Triathlon World Champion and ITU Long-Distance Triathlon World Champion

“Four-time Olympian Sheila Taormina took the lessons she taught in her recent book Swim Speed Secrets and developed a 16-week workout plan in the new Swim Speed Workouts.” — Triathlete magazine

“There is no one in our sport more accomplished in swimming than Sheila Taormina. She needs no introduction, and she now shares her breakout plan for the fastest freestyle with swimmers and triathletes who need help in that arena.” — Slowtwitch

“As a lifelong coach, the four-time Olympian shares what she’s learned with clarity and authority, explaining all of the small details that go into mastering freestyle.” — LAVA magazine

“Taormina’s Swim Speed Secrets is a compendium and reference, a tool box no triathlon swimmer can afford to ignore… Taormina has seen thousands of open-water and competitive swimmers of all levels…The insights and lessons provided in Swim Speed Secrets are the distillation of those decades of experience, thousands of hours of coaching and training and thousands of competitions in only 174 pages…This book is a more effective training aid than paddles, a kickboard and even a swimming pool. Swim Speed Secrets is your most important swim tool.” — TriSports.com

“Our testers, ranging from beginner to advanced swimmers, enthusiastically agreed that Swim Speed Workouts is a great pool-side companion. The water proof, step-by-step workouts come in a collection of individual cards and fit seamlessly into any training program.” — TriEdge.net

“While I’ve spent the last few years training under a fantastic coach, there were still some key elements that didn’t ‘click’ until I read [Swim Speed Secrets]. Having been on a plateau for some time, my swim has improved immensely within a few weeks.” — TriEdge.net

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