One way of developing your swimming is to mix up your strokes. I am a big advocate of swimming backstroke and breaststroke to maximise the feel athletes have for the water and and understanding for what makes them move forwards.
This week’s drill is primarily a butterfly drill, but don’t let that scare you! The underwater phase for butterfly is the same as for freestyle, so by working both arms at the same time we can 1) stay well balanced on the water and 2) feel for differences between each side.
Why Do It:
By starting from a fixed position with your arms out in front, it encourages you to feel what holding that pressure on the water is like, and understand that anchor point that you lever the body over. I would tend to do the drill as individual pulls for freestyle, focussing on the quality of each connection on the water, rather than trying to make a continuous stroke like the video as a butterfly drill.
How To Do It:
1. Lie out flat on the water – good posture, eyes down, core in, arms out in front. Light kick to keep afloat.
2. Anchor your wrists on the water (point your fingers down), then bend your elbows and throw your hands down and away past your hips.
3. Don’t rush to get on to the next stroke – take time to breath and slide your hands forward, aim for maximum distance per press.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
The trick is all in making sure you can feel pressure on your hands and forearms. We can all throw our hands down and away, but if they are slicing through the water like butter, you will be wasting energy. Remember to keep the elbows high and press with your forearms as well as with your hands, under your body. Drive all the way back, from engaging on the water at the front end all the way back to the exit at the back. Don’t try to breath during the pull; all you’ll do is end up with a face full of water and feel yourself slow down rapidly!
By working on a good, connected drive back through the water – and levering your body forward over the top – you will improve your pull no end. As a result your stroke count should reduce as you travel further for each individual pull. As always, follow up lengths of this drill with full stroke to feel the difference on the focal point of the drill.
See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!