Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Swimming Drills

As I was browsing the twitter universe this week, I noticed a freind was asking for advice for swimming drills that would be useful, and make his swimming sessions more interesting and more effective. While long straight-swim sessions are important and useful for building endurance, they do little for building proper technique, and can get quite boring ater a while. I typically try to get into the water 3 times a week, and the way I like to split up my sessions is to make one a continuos long-swim, one will be focused on drills, and the other a combination.

So here are some of the drills that I like to use in my training. I'll try to update this occasionally in case I forgot anything or find good new drills.

Catch-up - This drill has two purposes; to teach you to not let your arm drop during recovey; and to help establish a long "stride" with your arms.
Do freestyle as normal, but after your hand enters the water, keep it extended far in front instead of falling into the usual drop and catch. Keep your arm extended until your other arm "catches up" and your hands touch. Then drop the first arm down to propel you further. Stay focused on making long gliding strides with each push.

Finger-drag - Swim regular freestyle technique, but when your arm comes out of the water to reach forward, do not raise it as high as you would normally. Instead, try to just barely touch the surface of the water with the back of your fingers, so that they are somewhat dragging along the water as you extend your arm forward and enter the water for the catch.

Fists - When I was introduced to this drill, my coach actually had me hold tennis balls, but making a fist will work just fine. Quite simply, swim freestyle but keep your fists clenched the entire time. Though this sounds easy, you will notice that your catch becomes a lot less pwerfl, and you may find it difficult to stay high enough in the water to draw a proper breath. The purpose of this drill is to learn how to use different parts of your arms to push you through the water. When you combine this with the regular hands-open stroke, you will ultimately have a stronger stroke that incorporates your whole arm to generate force, instead just your hands.

Speed Sets - Much like running with intervals, it is important to incorporate speed-work into your swimming sessions. Depending on you personal swimming skill, feel free to half or double the distance, but I like to use 50Metres for this drill. Essentially, do four sets of 50M dashes at 90% effort level, allowing yourself 45 seconds rest between sets. Make sure to not too strong on the earlier sets, or you will find yourself just trudging through the later ones. Instead, I find it helpful to sort of think about negative splitting my time between the first and last 2 sets. Also, because I swim in a 25M pool, I'll allow myself a little more effort in the the last 25M of each set. Keep track of your time for each set, and see if your time is improving from month to month.

Paddle - For this drill, you will need to channel your inner surfboarder. Imagine that you are belly-down on plank of wood, and are paddeling out into the water. Instead of making the regular stroke motions, keep your arms somewhat stiff at 90 degree angles, and swim making a "paddle" motion. The purpose of this drill is to get used to keeping your arms farther apart. Too many swimmers end up crossing their arms over their bodies as they swim, and this will help prevent that.

Hand-to-Hip - Swimming is all about bieng efficient, and one area that efficiency is often sacrificed is at the end of the pull. This drill is to help focus on pulling for the entire time that your arm is in the water. As your arm is pulled through the water and begins to raise up, make sure to brush the side of your leg with your hand. Make sure to keep your hand face-down the entire time. Doing this will make it more natural to continue pushing for the entire stroke.

I hope these are helpful.
Have a great swim, and keep Tri-ing!


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