Moving fast in the water is a different problem and requires a different solution than moving fast on land.
On land we fight against gravity. Gravity grabs onto MASS. In order to overcome the power of gravity, we must emphasize muscular strength to move our mass forward.
In water we fight against water resistance (once gravity has been neutralized by good Balance). Water resistance grabs SHAPE. In order to overcome the power of water resistance, we must emphasize form so that water resistance has less to grab onto.
Form is about technique- our ability to hold superior hydrodynamic positions and make smooth, well-timed transitions between them (passive streamlining and active streamlining) so that we split the water in front of us with ease rather than shove it out of the way with brute force.
Unlike runners and cyclists, the best swimmers are not the most powerful, but those who can apply ‘just enough’ power with precision with un-faltering consistency during their entire event. It has been revealed that the winner in elite swimming contests is not the ‘fastest’ swimmer but the one who slows down the least- and that goes not to the one who is the most muscularly powerful, but the one who has trained to have the best form and neuro-muscular resilience to hold it.
Would you rather have enormous muscular engine to smash through heavy water resistance or simply swim in such a way that you face less water resistance? Increase your lactic acid tolerance or simply produce less? Swim harder, or swim smarter?
Unfortunately, the predominant mindset in swimming for the last 60 years has been formed around research in land-based sports and therefore followed land-based logic of muscular and metabolic conditioning. But basic physics, and the latest in actual ‘swimming’ science and neuro-biology shows us that when you train the neurological system of a swimmer to hold superior position under stress and you will get a superior swimmer with just the right muscular strength to support it. This, in essence, is the secret to swimming farther and faster with less effort.
For the time most real people have for swim training, spending that precious time and effort mostly on technique rather than power will produce far better results- and longer lasting since deeply imprinted neurological skills remain even as age claims muscle mass, and endure far better during lapses in training.