Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How To Structure A Technique Swim

We all think that it is a good idea to work on our swim technique but we often struggle with how to get the most out of our time at the pool. This article gives you practical tips for how to structure a technique swim. Each of the following are mini-main sets.


1. 200 of each of the following
* Side Kick, arm at side
* Side Kick, arm extended
* Side Kick, one stroke, three breaths
* Side Kick, three strokes, three breaths
* Three stroke swim

i. Fins can be used for all “Side Kick” drills but no fins is superior for experienced drillers

ii. If swimming short course then stop every 25 or 50, change at each 12.5

iii. If swimming long course then stop every 50, change at each 12.5 or 25

iv. You MUST stay relaxed, pace should be easy, rest interval is whatever is required to stay comfortable and relaxed

v. Beyond this point, if you feel fatigued or if your stroke starts to go – then you should stop and repeat the “Side Kick, three strokes, three breaths” for 200m of easy pace pausing every 25 to 50.


2. 4-6 x 100 b/l free
* Perfect form with 5-10s RI at 50 and 15-20s RI at 100
* If technique starts to go then jump back to “SK33” drill
* Rest interval should be as long as is required to maintain perfect, relaxed form
* You will speed up naturally over time, have patience


3. 2-6 x 50 bk
* Perfect form with 15-20s RI at each 50
* First thing to focus on is quick arm action on recovery – “stroke” can be mellow, but recovery should be quick, straight arm recovery
* Second thing to focus on is head remains perfectly still with shoulder opposite to stroking arm coming out of water – this position is very similar to the Progression drill where you drop alternating shoulders while kicking on back/side – just like in freestyle, this stroke is done from side to side and requires comfortable balance with side kicking


4. 4-8 x 50 b/l 3
* Count strokes on each 50, easy pace, 10-20s RI

i. A good count would be 40 strokes when swimming LCM (long course meters) of 40-50s

ii. If your stroke count is above 50 then you want to focus on distance per stroke – this can be achieved through better stroke finishing, improved balance and comfort in the water.

iii. If your stroke count is below 40 strokes per LCM 50 and you are swimming over 50s then you may be gliding too long, you may benefit from increasing your “hip drive” to generate more efficiency. Your stroke rate should only climb slightly but you will get a lot more speed/power. The increase in stroke rate will feel very fatiguing as your body will be used to lots of rest. This tip is only appropriate for well balanced athletes that swim with a normal stroke that essentially looks like catch-up drill.


5. 2-600m swim limiter
* Choose your personal technique limiter (stroke finish, balance through rotation, catch and pull straight back, enter in front of shoulder and pull straight back – all these are ideas for you)
* Swim 25s or 50s working exclusively on your personal limiter

i. If swimming short course then stop every 25 or 50, change at each 12.5

ii. If swimming long course then stop every 50, change at each 12.5 or 25

iii. You MUST stay relaxed, pace should be easy, rest interval is whatever is required to stay comfortable and relaxed

iv. Advanced athletes can swim 100s or 200s – however – you must be able to hold perfect form and work on limiter for entire


6. 2-6 x 50 Three-Four Drill
* Three strokes free then four strokes back, 10-20s RI

i. Goal is to keep hips high through transition

ii. Do not start stroking until head/chin makes transition.

iii. Three strokes free, rotate, chin up, four strokes back, rotate, chin down, three stroke back – using this pattern you will work both rotation directions.

iv. If you have trouble with breathing or feeling winded then use six strokes back


7. 2-1200 Stroke Count
* Swim either 50s, 100s or 200s on 10-20s RI

i. If you are swimming short course then count your even length strokes

ii. If you are swimming long course 100s then count your return length strokes

iii. If you are swimming long course 50s then count all strokes

iv. Pace should be comfortable at all times, if you feel winded at any time then swim a SHORTER interval. If you require more than 20s recovery then slow down and swim a shorter interval.

v. If balance / comfort in the water is your limiter then interval distance and speed are not important. Rest lots, keep interval distance short. If you are a 70 minute-plus IM swimmer or if your T(1) pace is 1:50 per 100m LCM or slower then you should assume that this is the case. Round numbers T(1) LCM of 1:50 per 100 would be about 1:40 per 100yd SCY (short course yards).

vi. If stroke endurance is your limiter (the likely issue for 70 minute or faster IM swimmers) then your goal is to increase your interval distance while holding perfect form. For this type of swim, I don’t believe that it is necessary to go much beyond 200s – unless you are comfortably under an hour for in IM swim. Then some mod-hard stroke endurance work at distances up to 400m can be beneficial.

vii. Once you can swim 1000 total with perfect form, increase your pace from easy to steady, note what happens to your stroke count. We only want to see a small increase in stroke count. What is small --- 5% total stroke increase is reasonable. As a guide, until you are under 50 strokes per LCM length, it doesn’t make sense to speed up.

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