Winter Training - Focus On Your Limiters: The Swim Part 1
When I first started triathlon the swim freaked me out. Literally. Like hyperventilate to the point of almost not competing freak me out. Why did swimming scare me so much? I soon realized it was because I wasn't confident in what I knew about the sport. I needed to have good form; I needed to be strong. But how? I needed help!
If swimming is your limiter, improving on what you know is easier than you might think! Remember: technique and mechanics. Mainly Stroke Mechanics, Strength and Flexibility. Today we are going to focus on Stroke Mechanics, Part One. In the coming weeks we will address Stroke Mechanics, Part Two, Strength, and Flexibility.
Focus On Your Limiters: Stroke Mechanics - Part One
Stroke Mechanics is probably the most difficult of the three areas to achieve because you must practice, practice, practice! BUT, it will also pay off in huge ways if you can master it.
Check your Overall Body Position.
a. Are you in a prone position?one
b. Are your hips "up"?
c. Is your head down & your feet up? This helps you swim through, not up.
d. Is your kick small? This helps to conserve energy.
PRACTICE: Fist Swimming. Ball your hands into a fist or hold a tennis ball in your hand. Swim 25-50 yds at a time with :20-:30 rest on the wall. Every other lap open the fingers but keep entry the same. Feel the paddle starting at fingertips and going to the elbow. Do 6-8 of these after your warm-up.
PURPOSE: To shorten stroke length which will help keep hips up & body in a prone position, and to pattern stroke at entry & beginning of catch to develop full use of forearm as paddle. Most swimmers, even when they open their fingers during the drill over-reach and drop elbow and thus the hips.
2. Check your Entry.
a. Is your reach (your full extension) approx. 6 in. below the surface?
b. Are your arms swinging forward like pendulums?
c. Are you penetrating the water with your hand and then rotating your hips to gain extra reach? *This is a gliding rotation. *The rotation on the mid axis helps finish and lift allowing you to take your hand out easier.
PRACTICE: One Arm Swimming. Swim with one arm back along the side. Keep head slightly up at the beginning to watch your stroke. Hand is pointed down, middle finger aligned directly at the end of the pool. Imagine a smiley face on the palm of your hand; it should be facing straight back. ALWAYS keep wrist below elbow, elbow below shoulder. As you reach out, rotate at the hips but do not straighten arm out so elbow drops. Breathe opposite side of forward arm with should back. Glance up with eyes only and see if your hand/forearm is straight like a paddle with the smiley face on the palm coming straight back. Do 4-6 x 50 yds (25 per arm) before & after a swim with :20-:30 rest on the wall.
PURPOSE: Smooth entry, less stress on the shoulder, more powerful catch, improved reach and rotation.