Swam as a child and took a decade or two off? Or perhaps you’ve done a little swimming in the past and now want to take it a little more seriously…
If you’ve decided to start taking swimming seriously here are our tips to getting your stroke on track.
1. Consult the professionals. Get a coach to check you out. If this is a little pricey for you don’t despair! Get hold of an underwater camera (beg, borrow, steal…don’t steal though!). Get lots of footage from different angles of your stroke including leg kick, arms (above and below the water), breathing/head position, body roll and your catch. Then go and find a slow-mo video (Youtube perhaps) and compare. Online videos are a great resource.
2. Once you know what needs improving look up relevant videos of drills that you can then go out and practise. Even if you were top have the World’s best stroke you should still incorporate stroke technique drills into your swim session.
3. Simplify your drills/practise. I read somewhere recently that it’s impossible to multi-task. The brain can switch froim one task to another very quickly but can’t process the two at the same time. With this in mind break up your drills into just kick (with or without kick float), rotation and breathing drills, arm and catch drills (using pull buoy) etc. Trying to swim drills focusing on your legs and arms at the same time is a waste of time.
4. Use training aids. Pull buoys, kick boards, hand paddles are all good, during parts of the session. Don’t get carries away and constantly use them. If you’re a novice and struggle with keeping your legs nice nd high in the water, get more buoyancy for drills. Get yourself a buoyance belt. * We particularly like Finis products.
5. Don’t underestimate core strength. If you drag your feet a little it could be because of a high head position but it can also be down to poor core stability or your inability to engage with your core whilst swimming. It’s incredibly difficult to coach a swimmer to use their core. Look up some good core stability exercises, both in the pool and on dry land.
6. Attend a squad. You don’t necessarily have to join a big swimming club. If you have a look around you may find a swim fit group or social swimming squad or just regularly that swim at the same time each week. Swimming with friends is a lot more fun and challenging.
7. Structure your session. Swimming 80 lengths in an hour once or twice week gets really boring. Start : with a warm up. Put in stroke technique drills early and finish the warm up with some pace. Main Set : your main effort and should contain most the your distance. Legs/Stroke Tech : if you’re bad at legs don’t just ignore the problem…it won’t go away! Leg sessions or stroke tech also allows the body some recovery after the main set. Sprints : stick in some 25/50m sprints. Swim Down : easy couple of hundred to loosen up.
8. Use the clock. It makes the swim more interesting, gives you instant feedback on your progress, makes you train harder… Get used to what times you should be swimming sets of 100, 200 etc in.
If you really want to see improvements in your swimming – Swim! At least 2 sessions per week, every week. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t instantly improve. Quite often you will hit plateaus and feel like you’re getting nowhere…just keep going and you will see improvements. Remember to use the clock. It’s the easiest way of tracking your progress.