A large proportion of athletes that come to HPT bring with them the tag “aquatically challenge” . Believe me, it isn’t an easy thing to fix. With swimming being an early specialisation sport, the skills are best mastered as a teenager swimming 5 to 10 times a week under the watchful eye of a good coach.
That said … we have a job to do and we can definitely make improvements. But beware – it isn’t a quick fix… it takes time and patience. This is my 1-2-3 of swim improvement.
First thing I do with most athletes is get them to swim more. Most are only swimming 3 to 5km a week, and just doing laps up and down the pool at the same pace. I like to ask them first to give me 10 weeks at 10km a week before I make any change to their technique. Just swimming more helps their technique by getting them stronger and reinforcing good movement patterns
Then I look at technique. Nothing fancy mind you. I work from front to back. I look at the head position and breath timing, the arms (catch, pull and recovery) then the body position and rotation, then the kick and leg position.
Include some basic drills to address the major issues. Just 200-400m per session. Finger trail to improve high elbow recovery. Catch-up to improve the front of the stroke, kick to improve kick, fists to improve the high elbow pull.
Once we have these basics down its a matter of getting into a good environment to swim and improve. Be around a group of like-minded and like-ability swimmers, have fun and always work on your technique.
I like to use underwater video from the front and side and above water video also from front and side. This way I can slow-mo it and make improvements. This is also invaluable to the athlete as most of them are shocked when they see their stroke.
If you are interested in having a swim technique session with video, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org so I can give you some options.
This article was originally published on Pete's blog "The Performance Project"