The biggest barrier to people improving their swim is the fact that many don’t enjoy it! If you don’t enjoy swimming, it doesn’t matter how often you get in the pool, or show up to training – or even have lessons – it’s going to make improvements very difficult to come by. Put simply, if you can enjoy swimming regardless of your ability, be comfortable in the water and maybe even look forward to sessions (OK that might be pushing it a little!), it will make life far easier to swim faster/stronger/more efficiently.
I’d say its fairly obvious that it’s not just as simple as deciding to enjoy swimming. But that said, there are things you can do to make your time in the water more enjoyable.
Firstly you need to understand why you don’t enjoy swimming. For some, they don’t feel comfortable in the water, they don’t feel relaxed. Others don’t find it easy to breath. The majority don’t enjoy swimming because they find it boring to do.
Then you need to work out a way round your roadblock to enjoying swimming. If you find swimming boring, that’s probably the easiest to sort! You can do any number of things with your swim sessions, but what it comes down to is creating some variation in your swim sessions and then not just ploughing up and down the pool aimlessly. Variation you can bring by changing the pace, adding in drills. You might even try swimming a different stroke. All of the above will not only alleviate boredom, but they will improve your swimming too. It’s a no brainer really!
For those swimmers that find it difficult to relax in the water, focus on good posture and being able to float well. Try and do some floating exercises, learning to allow the water to support your body.
What ever you do, your swim sessions should be enjoyable – that’s why we do sport after all!
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.
See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!
Front crawl is the stroke that all triathletes aim to master, but many Masters, swimmers, swim coaches and triathlon coaches support the idea of swimming the other main strokes too. Conversely many triathletes and triathlon coaches feel that you shouldn’t do anything outside of freestyle. I’m very much in the former camp – as a previous medley swimmer before coming into triathlon I feel that it has numerous benefits – but here’s both sides, and you can decide for yourself!
Why You May Feel That You Shouldn’t
Many age-group athletes won’t have had the same intensity and hours of swimming as they’ve grown through their teens as other swimmers have done. In fact, many will not have even been in a pool during these years, so they’ll have to play catch-up and will need more time practising front crawl to ensure a good technique. You may argue that, in these circumstances, swimming other strokes is wasting time that could be spent on developing front crawl.
Why Maybe You Should
Repetitive Motion Injuries
The major problem with training just freestyle when you are doing 2-3,000m per session is that shoulder problems that can develop. Too much of one stroke at that distance consistently can be problematic, especially if there are any flaws in your stroke.
Backstroke Helps With Hip Rotation
Learning proper backstroke and mixing it in to your workouts can help your freestyle hip rotation. It is even more essential in backstroke to rotate your hips with each stroke than in freestyle, and will help your brain make the biomechanical connection. If you’re only going to learn one other stroke besides freestyle, backstroke should be it.
Understanding Movement Through The Water
By being able to do other strokes, you work out what makes your body move. If you are new to swimming/triathlon, breaststroke can give you an easy get out if panic sets in or you are tired – but can also make you realise why freestyle is faster (body position).
Swimming thousands of meters and hundreds of laps of nothing but freestyle is way too monotonous and can play with your mind! I recommend mixing it up. Backstroke or breaststroke can be relaxing. Butterfly can give you a nice ab workout, and even just one or two lengths can burn many calories! It also helps develop power, and your hold on the water.
Individual medley (IM: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle) can really give you a good aerobic workout, take your mind off of counting laps or yards for a bit, and relieve the boredom of staring at the line at the bottom of the pool.
It’s important to take a “holistic” approach to your swim training. If you are just training to do one sprint-distance race and nothing more, ever, then training strictly freestyle can be fine. Otherwise, I would make it a mission to at least learn backstroke, and practice it with one workout per week; whether that is part of a warm up, cool down, or a break in your main set.
Points To Remember On Each Stroke
Keep the same long leg kick from freestyle. Push your hip and shoulder out of the water for every stroke. Keep your arms moving, don’t pause by your hips!
Timing is important, and so is making sure you get as much out of each stroke. Think pull, kick, glide – and when you do, keep your head as low as possible.
Ultimately it’s all about rhythm. 2 kicks to every pull, driving from the hips, and trying not to heave the arms over the water. As with backstroke, your pull should be continuous and flow.
Personally, I have done all 4 strokes growing up – as mentioned above I used to swim & race medley all the time. However even the freestylers I trained with did medley work, for exactly the reasons above; So thanks to Coach Kevin for the work you put in with me and the impressions you left on me!
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here!
See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!