The past few Sundays I have been doing some 1-1 swim coaching. On deck… with triathletes who want to improve their swimming. It’s been awesome.
We meet right on deck. Then I have the swimmer swim 500 yards (or 5 X 100, 2 X 250… whatever they are comfortable with). During that time… I observe. I take notes. I record above and below the water. I need that much time at a minimum to get a clear picture of how someone swims. There are times when I don’t catch something until the last 50.
After that I review with the athlete the good points about their stroke. Everyone comes to me proclaiming to be a horrible swimmer. It’s usually not true, so I highlight the positives. Then we move on to the top three things they need to work on. For everyone it’s different. Some swimmers cross over, some catch really wide. Some propel with their feet.
I don’t like to give an athlete 18 things to work on. Three is a good number. I try to show them a video while they are in the water of what we will work on first. Most athletes really have no clue what they look like swimming. My left arm recovers straight. Through high school and college it happened. We never fixed it because I was a good swimmer and I caught good water. But if you ask me… I think my left elbow bends. I really do.
So we look at the video and from there cycle through some drills. I try to get at least ONE thing corrected while they were in front of me.
After about 30 minutes of drills I send the athlete to shower and change, and we meet in the lobby where we upload and look at the videos a bit more closely.
Then I send them an analysis…. it took me a bit over a week to get my first ones done as I played around with how I wanted it to go….. but they get a link to the video, a detailed analysis with screenshots of their swim. They get suggested equipment, drills with links and videos and six workouts to help them work on things identified and improve their swimming.
I am loving the opportunity to be able to do this.
Swimming is more art than science… at least in my opinion. You can’t take two swimmers and try to put them in the same box. You can’t ask them to catch at exactly the same angle, rotate to the same degree. Especially because those two swimmers are different people with different body histories. One might be 5’1″ and the other 5’10”. One might have a metal plate in their elbow while the other is a pure runner. You have to watch each swimmer and create a swim program to match what they need.
“Blanket drills” aren’t appropriate. Assigning all of your athletes the same set of drills to cycle through just doesn’t work. You have to know how they swim and you have to know that tossing a pair of paddles on, banding their feet and ramping up their swim volume won’t accomplish anything. Those are good tools, but they don’t teach someone HOW to kick, or HOW to catch.
Here are some of the points I find to be critical in the swim:
1. The catch. We all know this one. It’s how you catch the water. Click here for a great drill and video on exactly how it’s done.
2. Propulsion: We are so focused on the catch and banding feet that we forget where the power in swimming comes from. When swimmers pick up the pace you don’t see a mad splash of arms and legs. That’s because they get that propulsion from their hips. Click here for a great video and drill set to teach you how to do that.
3. The kick: The kick IS important in swimming. Banding feet and expecting an efficient kick to develop isn’t the answer. Learning how to use that kick is. Most runners get propulsion from their feet, so they are the ones who need to really utilize propulsion from the hips and they are the ones who really need to focus on a purposeful useful kick. Click here for a good drill on kicking, that in my experience really teaches athletes to kick from their hips.
When making stroke changes I recommend starting with a shorter repeat, like a series of 50’s until you really get the new habit down. 10X 50’s can become 5 X 100’s, then 2 X 250’s then a 500. The shorter repeats initially … even if the rest period is an open turn… serves as a reset. The new habit stays fresher longer.
Don’t assume you are doing something when you swim. Get a video. Even an iPhone video is good.
Have patience. As with anything worth achieving…. swimming takes time. The needle moves slowly.
If you are interested in a 1-1 swim session with me, here are the details:
- Swim sessions are held on select Sunday’s at Nazareth College, here in Rochester NY
- I video above and below the water.
- We work on several drills, then take a look at the video.
- You get the video and a comprehensive written analysis that breaks down your stroke, gives you drills, sets and equipment suggestions.
- Cost: $100.
I am now booking through January. Please contact me at info at mary-eggers dot com (notice the hyphen between mary and eggers) to schedule a session!