Open Water Drills- December
One of the most common group workouts involves gathering with friends and heading out into the open water for a swim. When the weather is warm, this can become a weekly ceremony where athletes just enjoy getting out in the open water.
Most athletes will perform these sessions unstructured, with the focus being simple aerobic development and socializing. What these athletes are missing out on is a great opportunity to gain sport-specific skills for open-water swimming. This can easily be accomplished by giving the workout some structure.
Here are some simple open-water drills and skills to practice the next time your group heads for the ocean, lake, river or even a lane-line-less pool.
Start on the beach and run into the water. Count the steps from the time your foot first touches the water until the water becomes too deep to hold your speed and you must start swimming.
Repeat this until you establish a consistent number of steps you can run before losing momentum. Now attack the water with the plan of diving forward to start your swim after that specific number of steps. This will maximize your momentum and speed, transferring it to your swim.
If your upcoming race features a beach entry, this is a good drill to practice at that race's location, if possible. Doing so will allow you to familiarize yourself with the start and give you an edge on your competitors.
With a partner, or with a small group of three or four, form a line and follow the feet of the swimmer in front you. Try to hold their draft as close as possible. If you're the leader, take about 40 or 50 strokes, then pull off and allow the swimmer behind you to rotate to the front. For fun, don't always swim in a straight line, forcing the drafters to pay attention.
Practice your turns at a buoy, first solo, then progressing into small groups. Experiment with different approaches to the buoy—coming in for a wide turn or cutting the corner as tight as possible.
Additionally, the angle of the corners can vary from race to race. Check the course map of your upcoming race to know what to expect. Make sure to practice both left and right turns, because just like we have dominant sides of our bodies, we have dominant and weak turning sides as well.
Just adding some of these simple drill exercises in your open water swims can add variety and fun to your sessions, as well as build specific skills which can be used effectively on race day. Best of luck!
(Jim Vance, www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/3-Drills-for-Open-Water-Swimming.htm)
Leg Kick- November
The leg action comes from the hip region, and passes down through the knee which bends due to the pressure of water and to the timing of the levers for the propulsive phase in the kick down. It finishes at the feet, which are plantar-flexed and whip like in their action. The leg action is continuous and alternating; with the feet working close together.
The leg action in the front crawl accomplishes several necessary functions:
1. It gives supplementary propulsion, even with a highly efficient arm action (that is, when one arm enters as the other arm leaves the water). If any degree of ‘catch-up’ is introduced into the arm action, the legs are made to work progressively harder. As the amount of ‘catch-up’ increases, it has an inhabiting effect on forward progression, though how much relates to the proportion of ‘catch-up’ in the arm action.
2. The total area of the leg bearing down on the water keeps the body high and maintains the body in an efficient, streamlined position. However, if the leg action is initiated from the knee, the knee will ‘vee’ down in the water and this will result in some degree of positional incline and a subsequent increase in profile resistance (see picture)
3. When the arm enters the water, the opposite leg kicks in a downward direction. Due to the body roll, the directional force of this is oblique (angular).
4. The leg action also counteracts excessive lateral and longitudinal movements of the body. These originate from lack of co-ordination and imperfect technique in the arms and head action.
(Ref: Swimming Coaching, Joseph Dixon)
Resistance (Fundamentals)- October
A good, efficient leg action may be summarised thus:
A swimmer moving in the water meets resistance which must be overcome. This may be reduced by keeping the body position as horizontal as the stroke movements allow. The head is kept in line with the body. The action of the body in water may be likened to a see-saw. If the head is too high then the legs tend to sink and vice versa.
The more streamlined the body is the less resistance is experienced. There are three main types of resistance, profile, frontal and viscous.
Profile resistance- this resistance governed by the shape of the body. Resistance to forward motion increases with the size of the profile of the object. A small bullet, for example, will create less profile resistance than a larger cylinder.
Frontal resistance- this relates to the horizontal positioning of the body in the water. The more inclined the body is, the more frontal resistance will result. Breastroke creates more frontal resistance than Front Crawl.
Viscous resistance- this relates to the frictional force exerted by the body moving through it. Some competitive swimmers shave the whole body before competing. This helps to reduce viscous resistance.
Key points on Fundamentals
- Most people are physically capable of floating
- Propulsion in swimming strokes is produced by a combination of paddling and sculling actions
- Resistance can be reduced by adopting a horizontal and streamlined position and by wearing well-fitted swimwear (Ref: ASA Swimming teaching and coaching level 1)
Sculling Propulsion (Fundamentals)- September
Propulsion in water may be achieved in two main ways
Paddling means pressing backwards on the water in order to gain forward propulsion- pressing in the opposite direction to that in which the swimmer wishes to go.Unfortunately, since the water is a fluid, when the hand or foot presses directly backwards, it soon begins to move the water backwards rather than the swimmer forwards. In other words, the purchase on the water is lost.
Sculling actions produce propulsion when the hands and feet sweep inwards and outwards or downwards and upwards. Sculling involves the hand or foot moving in a curved path. This ensures that the purchase on the water can be retained. It requires the hand or foot to be pitched (turned) at a suitable angle in a similar way to the blades of a propeller.
Swimming strokes use a combination of paddling and sculling actions, but mostly sculling.
Ref: ASA Swimming teaching and coaching level 1
Underwater Dolphin Kick- August
It may be the single-most important skill in swimming today. Here's how you can maximize your underwater kicking:
1. Improve your ankle flexibility. Often overlooked, your ankles are the link between the final two segments of your leg that perform the whipping motion of a great dolphin kick.
2. Work on the “back kick” or kicking symmetrically in both directions. Most athletes accelerate their kick only as their feet move toward the front (I call this the front kick). The great underwater kickers accelerate the kick in both directions for maximum forward propulsion.
3. Improve your hamstring and glute strength. In order to do the “back kick” for maximum benefit, you will need to make these muscles stronger. The hamstrings are often weak in those who do not have a strong back kick.
4. Kick from the torso. Don’t just bend and flex at the hip and knee joints. Get your spine and torso involved.
5. Improve your thoracic flexibility. The dolphin motion should begin in your torso and travel toward your toes. If your thoracic region (think the part of your spine where your ribs are attached) can’t bend to begin this motion, your dolphin kick will be less effective.
6. Watch yourself on video. Then watch the person on your team who is best at dolphin kicking. What are they doing that you are not?
7. Count your kicks. How many kicks does it take for you to get to the 15m mark? To go 25 meters? Does it change whether you go fast or slow? Find out this information to tell whether or not you are improving.
8. Practice streamlining at high speeds using a stretch cord. Get used to feeling water move over your streamline at high speeds. Try dolphin kicking without adding drag while being pulled.
9. Improve your core strength. Your six-pack might look good, but do you have the strength and endurance to kick fast underwater during a race?
10. Make your legs stronger. It’s simple. The stronger your legs, the harder you can kick.
Ref: www.goswim.tv/swimming world magazine
Flotation (Fundamentals)- July
1. Some substances float in water whilst others sink
2. Cork and plastic foam float very well
3. Some substances such as lumps of metal or stone do not float in the water
4. Substances that float in water have a lower density than that of the water. Fresh water has a density of 1.000g./cm³
5. Human beings usually have a slightly lower average density than that of fresh water so that most people are physically capable of floating in it
6. Sea water contains dissolved salts resulting in higher density of about 1.024g./cm³. This means that it is easier to float in sea water than in fresh water
7. A useful test for floatation is the mushroom float which demands little skill compared with other floating positions
Ref: ASA Swimming teaching and coaching level 1
Backstroke start progression- June
1. The swimmer should stand in the water, place the chin on the chest, and then jump high out of the water, aiming to land on the middle of the upper back. The arms are by the side. The water should be chest deep. This step of the progression is shown in figures A and B.
2. The next step is to perform step 1 over the lane rope. The swimmer can duck under to start and then jump back. The aim is to avoid touching the lane rope from the knees up. The hips should be high and the arms by the swimmer’s side, as shown in figures C and D.
3. Like step 2, except the swimmer kicks out while going over the rope with the arms by the side.
4. This part of the progression is conducted in deep water (such as the diving pool). The swimmer starts by performing a backstroke start from the third step of the pool ladders. As the swimmer performs the start, the arms always stay by the side.
5. Like step 4, except the swimmer moves up one step on the pool ladders (in deep water such as the diving pool).
6. Like step 5, except the swimmer moves up to the top step.
7. The swimmer does a back dive from the edge of the pool with the arms by the side (reverse dive in deep water such as the diving pool).
8. The swimmer performs a normal backstroke start from a block.
Note: Steps 4-7 must be conducted in deep water.
Ref: Championship Swim Training- Bill Sweetenham/John Atkinson
Gliding exercises- May
A partner pushes the swimmer, and with a final push at a specified point causes him to glide as far as possible. The aim is to maintain a rigid/streamlined body position.
Ref: Coaching the young swimmer- Kurt Wilke and Orjan Madsen
Body position drills- April
An efficient freestyle is built on good body position. The way we float in the water is affected by our core tension. For a better freestyle, we must learn to shift weight forward, and achieve a "downhill" floating position. The goal of the following drills for body position is to experience an advantageous float and effective core stability.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS DRILL
- Learning to shift weight to achieve a "downhill" floating position
- Understanding the importance of a correct head position
- Feeling effective core tension and stability
How to do this drill
Step 1: Float face down in the water, with your arms at your sides, in a head leading position. Don't attempt any forward motion.
Step 2: Notice your body position. For most people, the legs will soon begin to sink, leaving the swimmer in an "uphill" floating position.
Step 3: To begin correcting this disadvantageous floating position, lower your chin, so you are looking at the bottom of the pool, not forward. For many people, this simple action will have a positive effect on their float, including raising their sinking legs a bit.
Step 4: Now focus on your spine. Make it as straight as possible by contracting your abdominal muscles and pulling your bellybutton in. Learning to achieve and maintain a straight spine through core tension is an important skill that can be applied to all strokes.
Step 5: While holding your core stable, lean forward on your chest. Doing so should allow your hips and legs to rise toward the surface of the water. This is the desirable "downhill" floating position upon which you can build a good freestyle.
Step 6: Stand, breathe and again lay horizontally in the water, face down, this time with your arms extended over your head, hands leading. Look at the bottom of the pool, achieve a straight spine and stable core. Shift your weight forward and feel the "downhill" float. Ref: The 100 Best Swimming Drills/Blythe Lucero