I have had a few questions lately about the swim. Its clear that the swim can be a frustrating discipline to develop. I usually like to coach these things individually as each individual situation demands different needs. A rookie has massively different needs to a pro.
How much a developing young athlete commits to the swim will definitely be different to another athlete that literally hasn’t got that sort of time to invest in big volume / frequency jumps.
There are however, a few common points that I can push :
- It’s no use practicing more when your technique isn’t being looked after. Technique should be the dominant driver. Give me 2 focussed, attentive hours over 4 mindless hours anyway.
- Awareness of where you are at and what you need to improve is key. You cant improve what you aren’t aware of
- The key areas of the swim are : Good body position, balanced breathing with a good deep exhale underwater, early catch, high elbow pull, strong kick.
- Keep your rating up at least over 32 strokes per minute. Slowing down your rating means you decelerate between strokes and it needs a lot of effort to accelerate again.
- Be aware of your stroke count for 50m at different intensities. Pulling “harder” through the water usually ends up as wasted effort due to slipping through the water. A good stroke count starts at the high 30’s. This indicates you have a good pull. If it goes much past 50 strokes per 50m it means you need to work on your pull.
- An early catch and high elbow pull ensures a good grab on the water. Grab that water as best you can with your whole forearm and pull your body past it. Engage your lats in that movement –
- Don’t drop your elbow underwater … it means you are only using your hand for the pull
- The hands should enter the water at the shoulder width and pull back under your shoulder line.
When you get the opportunity to watch elite swimmers on television or for that matter on Youtube, watch with these things in mind
- From the front keep an eye on the line of their pull under the water. Watch their breathing patterns and head position
- From below the water watch the exhale, body position, early catch & high elbow pull.
- From above look for hand entry points, shoulder and hip rotation and timing of the arms
- If you get a chance, count their strokes per 50m.
- When they get out of the water look at their bodies and how they are developed. This will tell you a lot.