Enjoy drills and techniques from my swimming toolbox, Thanks to all the great coaches I have been lucky enough to learn from, sharing information helps us all grow the sport of swimming.
Want to swim faster? Yes
Swim straight, stable & balanced. To follow are some drills to help you better balance on the water
To follow are drills to help you decrease your resistance by holding a great body line and stay balanced in the water, better anchoring in the water and improving your propulsion.
Body Position – Try to stay near the water surface, especially with the hips
Straight body position should be maintained at all times, during the stroke the body rotates along the long axis that extends through the spine, the stroke initiates with hip rotation, a strong core enhances the ability to hold a straight body line and hip drive from side to side. A slanted position increases resistance.
Hold Core tight/ Eyes Look down/ Press on the chest/ Flat Back
Drill: Kick Board Balance
Place a kick board, under your chest, bottom of board in line with hips, lean forwards to front float, keep your abdominals engaged and press into the kick board, eyes down, head down, notice your back flat and your body line at the surface.
Side Balance Drill: Arms by Side
Eyes down, head down, head in line with spine, maintain a long body line, engage abdominals and drive from the hip to rotate for one side to the other. To breathe balance on your side, rotate your nose up without lifting your head. Purpose improves side balance, hip drive
Body Rotation Drill: 6 Kick Switch
Eyes down, head down, top arm by side, lower arm extended, balance on side for 6 or more kicks, using core, drive hip from side to side as you take 3 strokes, balance on the new side, eyes down, head down, lower arm extended, then repeat.
Purpose: improves side balance, hip drive, head led breathing position
Get comfortable with your face in the water and exhaling underwater; you have to exhale to be able to inhale, when breathing the head should remain flat in the water, strive to keep the lower ear and goggle in the water to achieve head led breathing position, remember if you pick your head up to breath you will lose your balance in the water increasing your resistance. This can be a challenge in swells and waves!
Rhythmic Breathing Drill – Bobs
Inhale at the surface, submerge and exhale, as you rise to inhale try not to pull up out of the water, keep your chin in the water, even try alligator breathing ( breath in and out of your mouth with your mouth open and the lower jaw submerged. It will help you get more comfortable with water in and around your face.
Freestyle Breathing Position
Check out this footage a swimmer demonstrating head lifting, lead arm dropping, late breathing and scissor kick while breathing, all symptoms of poor body balance, if this is you, practice side balance drills with a gentle kick.
Freestyle Arm Action
Arm Entry-Hand enters in front of the shoulder, fingertips first, arm stretches forward. The Catch is made by gently bending your arm until your hand & arm are facing backwards, in a good catch your upper arm and elbow move out and to the side. This is the point you begin to accelerate your body forwards. Next the In sweep your whole arm moves water backwards, with your arm remaining bent your elbow moves backward at body level, avoid dropping your elbow, pulling with a straight arm, and/or pulling under your midline. The Recovery of the stroke begins with the elbow.
For a detailed, biomechanical breakdown, there is no shortage of good resources out there, read up on it, it is cool to understand the written word and even better to discover how an effective arm angle of attack feels, drills help!
Heads up Freestyle Drill – Stroke Entry
Often called Water Polo Drill, this allows you to see what is happening at the front of the stroke, strive for a fingertip first entry stroke, avoid entering thumb first and/or crossing at the midline with your arms. It also forces and early recovery.
Long Arm Dog Paddle Catch & Propulsive Pull
This is an effective drill to help your arm propulsive force. Try having as little downward movement of the upper arm as possible, rather move it out to the side as you flex the arm and apply gentle pressure to move the hand and forearm into a backwards facing position. Make your fingertips to your elbow one long paddle, once your hand and forearm are facing backwards pull your arm straight back, use an underwater recovery.
Fist Drill – Propulsive Pull
This drill helps you double your propulsive arm force by forcing you to attack the pull with your forearm, using a fist while swimming takes away your hand propulsive force, encouraging you to better angle and pressure your forearm.
Now open your hand and swim with your hand, wrist and forearm as one unit to double your propulsive force underwater. Think paddle from finger to elbow.
These are just a few of many drills – we’ll explore more in the future. For now master these, have fun and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and NEVER GIVE UP!
Shout out to some coaches who have shared information with me:
Bill Boomer, Coach of University of Rochester 1962-1990, USA Olympic Coach, 2000
David Marsh, CEO, Director of Coaching at SWIM MAC, coach of 47 Olympians
Karlyn Pipes, Aquatic Edge, Owner and operator or Aquatic Edge, 2004,2007,2008, 2009 World Masters Swimmer of the Year, 219 FINA Masters World Records. www.aquaticedge.org