|Arm lead balance drill|
Swimming needs a bit of a different, more scientific approach to training. You cannot simply turn your brain off when you swim and hope for the best. The swimming movement is such a complex matter that it needs to be broken down into parts and these parts need to be practiced over and over before they can be slowly put together again. Similar to babies finding their hands and practicing putting them in their mouths and practicing their first steps.
Human bodies weren't originally built for water, so we need to work extra hard to be efficient swimmers. To break down swimming into parts, we use what we call in swimming lingo "swimming drills". Each swimming drill focuses on a specific small aspect of the swimming stroke with the goal of improving the overall stroke. Some drills are easy, and some quite difficult, but they all have a purpose. For example, we could have a side balance drill where a swimmer only kicks on his/her side to practice correct body line position, increase core body strength and overall ballance in the water. Or to help with the underwater catch we could use the freestyle one arm drill where the swimmer swims freestyle only with one arm while the other is pointing forward or by the body. There are hundreds of swimming drills for every stroke out there and the best coaches incorporate them into their practices every day. So why shouldn't you?
I know what some of you might be thinking: well, if I swim slower with one arm or just kick on one side, I don't feel I am working as hard as I do when I train in running or cycling. Sure, your heartrate might not be as high, so you feel like you are wasting your time since you are swimming slowly or you might get bored as your body needs that rush of exhaustion all the time for you to feel that the workout was worth it. Or you might be thinking that I don't have time to worry about this, I just need to swim as I don't have enough time to master all three sports and, I have to swim as much as I can. If you belong to this category of triathletes and you train in this way, you are just asking for trouble, especially when it comes to improving in your swimming. Not improving your technique by incorporating miscellaneous swimming drills into your swim routines, is a bit like running or cycling with untied or unstrapped shoes. You can tie them at any point you want, but you do not and you keep running or cycling with them untied even though you'd run much faster if you took the time to tie them. You can perform swimming drills during your workouts, but you do not because your mind and stubbornness get the better of you.
|One arm freestyle drill with an early vertical forearm catch|
Next time you are doing your workout or are in the pool just cruisin', take these words to heart and do me and most important yourselves a favor. Start to think about your stroke. Swallow your pride, learn to think like a swimmer (not a triathlete) when you are in the pool and swim at your own speed and utilize swimming drills in your workouts. You can't go wrong, if 50% of your swimming workout is composed of miscellaneous swimming drills. So happy drilling everybody!