If you have not been working on your swimming this winter, time to get going. Winter swim training is for fixing those technique problems you do not have time to work on during your race season. It is a time to reshape your muscle memory. There is still room to sign up for my next clinic beginning in February. In the mean time this is what we will be working on this week.
HAND LEAD KICK
This week’s drill is Hand Lead Kick, a simple body position drill to work on head position, high hips, and proper kick. To perform the drill, you will lay face down in the water with the arms extended overhead. Your arms should not be in a streamline, but rather each arm should be in line with the shoulder.
Once you are in the prone position you simply kick down the length of the pool, working on keeping your arms extended, head in line with your spine, and your hips up. When doing this drill, make sure that you are really reaching through your fingertips to keep your body as long as possible in the water. Also make sure that your hands are just below the surface of the water and as still as possible. You will want to try and use your arms to balance, but watch to make sure you are using your core and propulsion of your kick to find stability in the water rather than your arms.
A snorkel is a great addition to this drill, as it lets you focus on maintaining the proper body position and not have to worry about disrupting your body position to breathe. This will also help you if you struggle with a high head position, as you can focus on keeping your head down and in line with the rest of your body. While this is a great drill for beginning swimmers to work on the proper body position in freestyle, it is also a great drill to incorporate with advanced swimmers when working on drills that lengthen out their stroke.
DELAYED RECOVERY FREESTYLE
This week’s drill is Delayed Recovery Freestyle, a drill that works on the finish of the stroke while also checking rotation and body position. It is also a great drill to remind you to stay long in front with your lead arm.
To perform the drill, pause at the back end of your stroke, following your underwater pull. This “paused” position will be similar to a hand lead kick drill with one arm fully extended and one arm down close to the side.
But what makes this drill different is that you only want to pause briefly at the back end of the stroke before continuing with your normal recovery. The result will be a slightly “sticky” freestyle that is should be performed slowly to check in with all aspects of your stroke. Obviously, if you are dropping your elbow or finishing short in your strokes this is a great drill to spot that and correct it, as you are literally pausing at the end point of your pull.
But this is also a good drill to remind you about proper body position and extension. When you are in that brief paused position you should keep your lead arm steady and extended in front through the finish of your stroke, and not to initiate your pull early. Also, when your paused you will be able to see any delays in your hip or shoulder rotation.
When you switch back to full stroke swimming, make sure you are not keeping the pause at the end of your stroke. This is a great drill to add to the end of balance or underwater pull drill progressions to remind you to have long, efficient stroke.