Now it is time to write about some drills for free style swimming. Do not be scared most drills are about balancing-positioning-and gliding. What we do is, we break down each individual movement into smaller units so we are able to concentrate on these and in combination with the next drill we add on another movement. In drill session we may go from focus core muscle to the extremities and or vice versa applying transition drills. If we go as we please, we might interrupt the learning chain as the brain switches from core focus to the extremities focus.Before we start, let me say something about kicking.
Speaking to many triathletes about kicking the answer is most likely “I do not like it at all and in training I use the pull buoy to compensate my bad kicking performance”. Perfect answer.
I did some races in swimming as well in triathlon but I was never allowed to use a pull buoy during the race.
During our arm strokes there is always a time, no matter what we do that we are going to decelerate. Kicking can help us so that the deceleration doesn’t affect us as much. Since we are not decelerating so much using our kicking skills our recovery arm stroke is a lot more relaxed. There are different types of kicking and they depend on your position in the water and the distance that you swim, etc. Today you might swim with a 2 beat kick tomorrow may be using a 4 beat kick. There is no perfect answer to this question. 2 beat, 4 beat and 6 beat kick, 2 beat crossover are the most common ones.
Most long distances swimmers prefer a 2 beat kick.
#1 #2 #3
The foot in the picture #1 to the right has no use for kicking at all.
Picture #2 shows a little bit but still, these swimmers love their pull buoy.
Picture #3 is a foot position for a relatively good kick.The problem we have to overcome is our ankle flexibility.
Yoga stretching exercise like the child pose helps us increase our ankle flexibility. We do not have to kick vigorously just enough so we have a stable body position during the rotation of our long distance swim.If we are not kicking during the swim we are losing a huge portion of our stability, which would give us a straight-line swim. The advantage in open water swimming would be that we do not have to look up every 4th or 6th stroke if you keep a straight line. That saves us a lot of energy for the bike/run.Back to the promised drills
Neutral kick on your side.
Neutral means standing position, arms hanging down, legs together. In freestyle you are on your say, left side, your body faces the wall of the pool, arm on your upper leg. The arms do not do anything (relaxed), and your nose points to the bottom of the pool. In order to breathe, breathe out into the water, turn your head to the side, breathe in, turn your nose back to the bottom of the pool and keep kicking.
That could be a warm up drill and the name is (Neutral side kick right and left side) and we change the side every 25m. To get the feeling for a straight-line swim we do a drill called
It’s same idea as the neutral kick with a little change in the body position. The lower arm is stretched out, represents the active arm and the recovery arm rests on your upper leg. Keep kicking and after 25m change the arm side. How to breathe? Breathing works the same as for the neutral kick.Let’s get some water feeling and sculling is the drill we perform.
We do the drill for freestyle, position yourself on your stomach, pull buoy between the legs for support. Sculling means moving forward by holding your arms comfortable stretched in front of you and then you twist your wrist-hand-finger structure in such a way that you move forward (Good Luck!!). It is a very slow forward movement. In the next 25m you position your arm-wrist-hand-finger structure in the center or in the middle of the arm stroke and do the sculling. For the next 25m the position of your hand is at the end of your arm stroke. To finish the drill we start with the sculling at the front moving toward the center and finally to the end of the stroke. The awkward part of this drill is now to bring both arms back to the front position. You will figure that out. Another interesting drill is when the fingers of the recovery arm touch the back of your head.
Let’s do it. When the rotation is completed that means you are either on your left side or right side, your nose points to the bottom of the pool, the active arm is stretched in front of you, the recovery arm comes up, touches the back of your head and then the active arm executes the under water arm stroke and the recovery arm enters the water. In this drill you are able to monitor your catch and the pull-push motion of the active arm.Have you ever thought about swimming freestyle with one arm only.
Again, go back into the neutral position. One arm does the full stroke the other arm rests on your upper leg and is not moving at all. Breathing is on the same side as the active arm during the recovery phase. Repeat this exercise with the other arm and change every 25m.
A very interesting drill is our Golf game.
This drill is designed to understand the relationship between the time you swim and the number of arm strokes that you take.
To introduce this game we have to look at the clock. Every swimming pool has a clock with four coloured pointers 15seconds apart. Swim 50m and stop your time. Say it is 47 seconds. Next you swim 50m again but at this time you count the strokes. Say it took you 50 strokes. We add up these numbers and we have our set number of 97. The full version of this drill is, to do both, watch the time and count the strokes for a 50m swim. The game is now to decrease the number either by swimming faster or using fewer strokes. We can do a swim set that consists of drills and the golf game.
50m drill – 50m golf game (remember the number) – 50m drill
50m drill – 50m golf – 50m golf – 50m drill (the number should decrease)
50m drill – 50m golf – 50m drill – 50m golf – 50 drill
(the number either is constant or decreased)
Approx. 15 sec. rest between each 50m will recover your concentration.
By the way, if the number does not decrease, we can say that your swimming has not been improved. You might decrease the number of strokes but you haven’t added any power to the arm stroke yet. Many other drills and games can be done to get the right water feeling, balancing and positioning skills for a good and relaxing swim.
Some Lane Etiquette
Arrive early, do stretches, listen to the workout talk, Choose a lane which matches your pace or level, change your lanes if it does not match during the workout, leave 5-10sec. between each swimmer, when overtaking touch the slower swimmer’s foot, the slower swimmer moves over or slows down, if you stop keep the ends of the lane clear to allow continuing swimmers space to turn.The next article is about open water swim and it is recommended that a triathlete is able to swim multi strokes, Crawl, Backstroke, and Breaststroke. It will increase the overall skill level as well as the inner core strength.