If you did not grow up swimming, you have to understand that swimming improvement is a gradual process that takes time. Proper coaching with emphasis on the fundamentals will pay dividends that will speed up the process in both the short and the long term.
Learning proper technique is fundamental but understanding the theory of proper technique and actually applying it consistently in your swims is the key to success.
This is why a great coach can teach you and allow you to focus on one thing at a time and for a long period of time. Blending some technique work with volume and frequency will get you good results in time.
The first thing we started working with coach Dave Williams - and still do - is head and body position followed by KICKING.
"Proper positioning in the water is necessary to reduce drag and increase speed and efficiency so that you are not killing yourself to keep up with the faster swimmers.
Proper kicking technique is necessary to drive the body forward. Practically speaking however, the kick only provides about 10-15% propulsion. It is for this reason that most triathletes overlook it especially when considering that both the bike and the run are still to come. But a poor kick can increase drag, throw your body out of alignment, and work against your forward momentum. Stand alone kick sets are also beneficial in increasing blood flow and removing lactic acid from the muscles thereby reducing recovery time between sessions.
Finally, it is imperative to spend lots of time in the water developing the muscle memory and training the energy systems required for faster swim times and smoother transitions. This is especially important for older athletes as there is little to no impact trauma associated with swim training. A 60 minute session 4 to 5 days per week or a 90 minute session 3 to 4 days per week will pay dividends that will also benefit the bike and the run." ~ coach Dave Williams.