Sunday, 27 October 2013

Most Common Swimming Mistakes - Doing Only Fitness Training and No Technique Work

In a previous post about The Most Common Swimming Mistakes we spoke about The Weak Leg Kick.  Today the focus is on another common mistake many swimmers make, ie. doing only fitness training and no technique work.  In my experience limited workout time is the main culprit here, many of us are busy with families and work and most of the time merely getting to the pool is a challenge.

My suggestion is to try and incorporate your technique work into your warm-up and/or warm-down swims and always remember that when doing drills the stroke should be broken down and you should aim to perfect it - good technique is key here.

Below are some freestyle drills to incorporate into your workout.

Balance Drill - Source:
25m left arm only freestyle - breathe only to the right
25m right arm only freestyle - breathe only to the left
(Count your strokes each 25m! Work on this drill until your stroke count is equal for the left and right arm)
50m freestyle swim breathing every third stroke - bilateral breathing

Catchup Drill - Source:
With both arms extended above the head, pull with one hand, recover to the beginning (both arms extended forward) and touch the other hand. Focus on locking your elbow straight when you extend your arm to touch the other hand. Repeat the motion with the other hand.

Fingertip Drill - Source:

This emphasizes body roll and high elbow recovery! During the recovery phase of your stroke, drag your fingertips in the water. Your fingertips should stay in contact with the water during recovery.

The Salute Drill - Source:
You may use fins if you want to for this drill.
  • Kick on your side with the bottom arm extended forward and the top arm resting on your hip. Do about 10 kicks in this position and breathe as you feel necessary.
  • Lift the top arm by the elbow and bring your hand forward until your thumb touches your forehead - think salute. 
  • Lower the bottom arm straight to about 5 o'clock and then rotate the elbow up to the catch position.
  • Snap the top hip down, while driving the top arm forward as you complete the pull with the lower arm, finishing on your opposite side.

 The Fist Drill - Source:
This drill forces you to use your forearms, not your shoulders, when you swim freestyle, and it also helps to train you not to drop your elbows in the recovery.
  • Swim freestyle with your hands closed in a fist instead of open. Focus on pulling your arms through all the way to your thighs.
Add some variations by using the Fist Drill with stroke and glide (normal freestyle except the arm extension is held out there longer than normal, accentuating a glide phase).
Long Dog Drill - Here is a good video clip from EnduranceWorks. Usually this is done with your head above the water similar to the the "doggy paddle", however, personally I prefer this version where your head stays in the water.

"slow arm recovery," "quick catch" and "high swingers" -  This video clip from is a great explanation of these drills.

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