It feels like I am starting over, having been out of the water so long due to injuries. I used to swim with the local US Masters group for a while and improved quite a bit during that time – thanks Coach Dan&Coach Dave. Our total yardage varied depending on the season and in which lane you swam. Mine varied from 2700 to 4200 yards each practice, three times per week. I thought I was really churning up the water until I talked with a friend whose 12 year old daughter on a rec. league swim team was averaging 3500 yards three to four time per week. I had also heard D1 collegiate swimmers swam between 8000 and 12000 yards a day. But for me, it was enough because I had just started swimming a year before that.
Now that I am just coming back to the water after a long absence, it’s almost like starting over. I remember the mechanics and drills but I am nowhere near where I left off because I have not used those muscles in that way in a long time. Because of this, I thought it would be a great time to focus on technique.
There are some good books on swimming and drills. I came across a seven-DVD set triathlon training series that included one for swimming. It contains two DVDs.
The first disc is geared toward beginner/novice swimmers and was created by Trip Hedrick, former Iowa State University Head Men’s Swimming Coach. He starts with the premise of you knowing little or nothing about swimming. He thoroughly explains each drill, it’s purpose, and place moving you toward the full freestyle swim. He explains what the extremities, arms and legs, should be doing while swimming and drills for that. Remember, swimming is a technique sport so drilling is important to implant the technique into your muscle memory.
Clark Campbell, former Professional Triathlete and University of Kansas Head Women’s Swimming Coach, takes over and discusses the more detailed points. These include body position and alignment, the function of the core in swimming, swimming musculature, and much more.
On the second disc, Coach Campbell “takes you through a classroom segment discussing training methods for swimming.” He discusses what a training plan looks like and how to get to your goal – training periodization.
I popped disc one in and started watching. Oh, how my Masters practices would have been easier if I’d watched this while learning swimming. I really like that Trip was in the water, the way he explained the drills, had two triathletes demonstrate them and tell you what part they play in the overall freestyle stroke plan.
Since I am rehabbing from shoulder and elbow issues, I thought I would work on the recovery drill. My next practice was transformative. The recovery drills and subsequent swimming with my new recovery felt completely natural. I was elated. My wife’s eyes glazed over with excitement when I was telling her all about it, as they often do wen I “talk triathlon”. The physical therapist liked the new recovery movement compared to the old way. I told every swimmer I knew the effect of just this one change had made. Every subsequent swim will have to build on it and imprint it in my muscle memory but, wow, what a difference.
The next goal is to tackle breathing technique. When swimming a year ago, I could go fast enough where breathing technique was not an issue. You know your breathing technique is good when you can do catch-up drills slowly while breathing in air instead of water. That’s what I am working on. Racing is out for me this year so I have plenty of time to work on technique and base training.
Here’s the DVD I’ve been discussing:
The Swim: Technique and Training for Triathletes – An “Outside-In” Approach to Freestyle
If you enjoy that one, you’ll probably enjoy the whole triathlon training series Champion Productions offer as well.
“H2O: two parts Heart and one part Obsession. ~Author Unknown”