Well, the holidays have come and gone, gift bags have been forced into hibernation, and along with your waistline, the season has likely added something extra to your swim times as well. How do you combat these unwelcome increases? Here are 10 awesome tips to get you in and out of the pool, frustration-free.
Go over your gear: Let’s face it, your pool gear likely hasn’t moved since the end of last season unless you are a veteran swimmer (and if so: why are you reading this article?) Make sure you go over your goggles. If you’re a regular, chances are that last years are getting worn and the seals may be leaking. Find a pair that will prevent water from seeping in, and don’t give yourself a reason to say, ‘Man these suck, I’m going home!’ The seal should be firm around your eyes. Also, If you don’t already own them, make sure you have a kickboard, pull buoy, paddles and a swim cap.
Relax: Swimming, when done properly, is a smooth and fluid motion. I’m willing to wager that your first few times back in the pool will be far from smooth or fluid, especially if you’re tense, which you likely will be. One of the best ways to relax is through exhaling. Everyone remembers that they need to inhale when their face is out of the water, but some forget it’s also import to exhale when your face is in the water. Get in, breathe out, relax, and as much as we want to race, today is a day to check your ego at the door. Don’t frustrate yourself by competing with last season’s peak training pace, you will get back there, but not today.
Learn to Breathe: Even if your technique is flawless, if you fail breathe properly, you are not going to be able to swim very far. Turn your head to the side to breathe. Don’t pick your head straight up as when you lift your head, your hips sink and create drag.
Work on Good Body Position: The only way to get faster in the water is to increase force and/or reduce drag. Reducing drag is the easier of the two, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is by working on good body position in the water. Again, your head controls your hips. Keep your head down when you’re swimming and keep your hips and feet close to the surface of the water.
Don’t just swim: All too often when I ask people what they did for their swim practice they tell me they swam for 30, 40 or any given number of minutes. They have no idea how far they swam or at what pace they were swimming. Work on drills and timed intervals. It’s way too early in the season to be concentrating on long swims.
Practice with a kick board: Use them to not only make you a stronger kicker but more importantly to get into the right body position. Make sure the board is ahead of you and your head is in the water.
DRILLS DRILLS DRILLS!: After you get warmed up in the pool you will be amazed how quickly you will fatigue. And before you even feel tired, your body will tell the world with poor body position, short strokes and bad form. Don’t let that happen! Focus your form, do your drills, and I’m talking ‘back-to-basics’ drills: Kicking on side, ½ moon, 1 handed catch-up, stroke count, closed fist. All of these will be described in the coming weeks at 3Sports.ca, but if you already have a few you often use, focus on them more than anything. You are back to basics, so cover the basics.
Don’t overdo it: Start off with short swims and build up. 30-45 mins, including 2-300m warm-up and cool off, is plenty of time to cover 5-10 sets of simple, relaxing drills.
Practice Sighting: In order to increase your ability to sight in an open water race or triathlon, practice sighting in the pool. On every fourth lap, throw in a few sightings while swimming across the pool. Look up two to three times and try to keep a streamlined position by not dropping your hips and legs. Attempt to look up in one smooth motion within your arm cycle. If you want feedback on technique, ask your coach or lane mates to check out your sighting technique and give you some constructive criticism. It’s important to continually improve this part of your swimming technique. If you sight once every 25 meters in a full Ironman triathlon, that is >150 sightings during the swim.
Throw out the clock: As mentioned earlier, ‘check your ego at the door’ and just get back to the basics, if you can’t do 50m as fast as you did in September, it’s not a failure, so don’t even give yourself a chance to get upset. A positive attitude is a fast attitude.
8 x 50m ‘One Arm’: 25m right arm, 25m both arms then repeat with left arm
4 x 50m ‘Closed fist’: 50m with both hands closed,
2 x 50m ‘Catch up’: have each had meet each other in the glide position before each stroke.
8 x 25m ‘low stroke count’: Long stroke, pause with glide, try to have your number get lower and lower. 20 seconds rest per 25 – be as fresh as possible for each 25m repeat to ensure optimal form.
4 x 50m ‘kick on side’: focus on hand position, ‘feel the water’ and find that optimum hand position with the least resistance.
300M Continuous swim
100 easy (any stroke)
Total Mileage: 1900 Meters