Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just Keep Swimming...

Every time I swim long distances that little song from Finding Nemo gets stuck in my head. You too? Anyways, I thought I'd share some more swim tips today to keep your summer workouts fun and effective. Like I said before, swim drills are great to improve your form and speed, as well as work your muscles harder and therefore, get a better workout. Here are some of my personal favs:

A pull buoy

  • Kick sets: This one is really basic, but a proper kick is crucial to swimming. A kick set is just a set where you only kick. You can either do this without a board and only use your arms to take a breath, or by using a kickboard. If you use a kickboard hold it out farther in front of you so that you can maintain a horizontal position, not right under your chest causing you to change your body positioning in the water (which defeats the purpose of a kick set). A good kick comes from the hips and has your legs fairly straight in the water. I see a lot of new swimmers kicking by bending at the knees, but this will slow you down DRASTICALLY. Remember to keep your kick fast and small, rather than slow and wide (ie opening your legs wide) for the best results. My last tip for a good kick is to make sure you point your toes. 
  • Pull sets: The opposite of a kick set, is a pull set. In a pull set, you use only your arms and focus on technique and breathing, while strengthening your upper body. To do a pull set, you can either use a pull buoy or just let your feet drag. A pull buoy is a big help if your pool has them. If you use them, make sure to position it inside your upper thighs. 
  • Finger tip drag: This is one of the best drills because it really works your arms and shoulders and conditions you to use better form. This one is kind of hard to explain, but I'll do my best. Basically, you swim normally with a few changes. As you reach your arm to pull, drag your fingertips across the top of the water. This promotes high elbows during the recovery part of your pull, which is really important. Here's a quick video:
  • Catch Up: The catch up drill helps you to focus on using a long pull and correct body position and rotation. To do this drill swim with a normal kick, but change up the arms again. This time extend both arms in front of you and swim with one arm at a time. Pull with your left arm, keep your right arm extended in front of you. Recover with your left arm until both hands are extended again in front of you, then switch sides. Here's another video:

  • Breath Control Sets: Breath control is very important in swimming, so there are a few sets you can do to work on it. Ideally when you are swimming you want to take breaths on odd number of pulls, so that you alternate sides. For example if you do 3 pulls per breathe you would pull once with your right arm, once with your left, then on the third pull on your right arm you would take a breath. For a good breath control set, try doing one 25, 50, or 100 (whatever your workout calls for) of 3, 5, and 7 timing. This takes practice, but really helps with your swim. The second breath control drill that my swim coaches made us do often was to "give us" a certain number of breathes we could use for each 25 yards. We'd start with a high number (pick based on your current level- maybe 7) and lower until we only had 1 breath for an entire 25 yards. This "drill" didn't work on speed (most of us went slow) but it helps you to learn just how far you can go with limited air, and conditions your lungs.  
Hope these drills help you out!

QOTD: Do you practice drills for swimming or running? What's your favorite one? 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! Thanks for the tips! I don't do drills in the pool, but if I ever do, this is the place I'm coming to check out your advice! I love Nemo...that song gets in my head a lot, even when I'm not swimming! Hehe!