Question: How deep in the water should my head be while swimming freestyle? Should it be partially submerged or mostly submerged?

Answer: Your head, though heavy is very buoyant. When swimming, your head position is important because it affects your body position in the water and the mechanics of the stroke. To find the right head position you want to stay within two parameters.

First, two-thirds of your head should always be in the water. If more of your head is out of the water, it stops being buoyant. Second, you generally want to keep the back of your neck flat and your eyes looking down, or up to maybe six inches in front of you.

You can use a simple floating drill to find the right head position. First, float on your stomach with your arms and legs fully extended, making your body as long as possible. Now relax your neck so your head floats at its natural level. Then have your eyes look straight down, and slowly look forward.

It’s important to notice what happens to your body as you do this. As you look directly forward, feel what happens to the rest of your body. Typically, your body level will sink the more you look forward. You want to find the head position where your scapula, hips and feet all are floating near the surface—that’s where your head should be positioned as you swim.

Finally, if you’re not naturally a floater, you can still use this floating drill with the addition of a pull buoy between your thighs to help you along.

Answered by: Chris Bowker, a professional swim coach for 10 years. Currently he coaches for T2 Aquatics in Naples, where he qualified four swimmers for the 2012 Olympic Trials. He’s an American Swim Association Level Four Coach and a serious triathlete.