Training > Swim

How to develop a strong and efficient swim stroke

Build focused mini drill sets into your winter swim training to develop a strong and efficient stroke

Through my time coaching I’ve found that many age-groupers don’t include enough specific technique work into their swimming programmes; they fail to understand which drills are going to have the greatest impact and why; and they end up rushing through and performing drill sets badly. 

But now is the time to break your stroke down and work on specific drills that will improve your stroke efficiency and distance per stroke. The next step is then to gradually put your improved technique under pressure by building cadence and speed, or by loading the stroke by wearing hand paddles, fins or resistance, e.g. with drag shorts, resistance parachutes, etc.

Try and focus on one element of your stroke technique at a time, targeting specific areas of weakness or inefficiency. All the drill/swim repeats in the session should be done at a controlled aerobic intensity with emphasis on quality not
effort, so rest as you see fit. 

THE SESSION

WARM UP

200m easy

 •

5 x sink-downs 

Breathe in, relaxed exhalation as you sink to bottom

 •

4 x 75m 

As 25m breathing every 2 strokes left; 25m 2 strokes right; 25m every 3 strokes 

MINI DRILL 1 – BODY POSITION

6 x 15m 

Push, glide, streamline/10m swim

 •

4 x 50m 

25m side kick with fins/25m swim

 •

4 x 50m 

25m 6-1-6 kick (6 leg kicks on one side; 1 full stroke; 6 leg kicks on other side)/25m swim

 •

4 x 50m 

25m 6-3-6 kick (as above but with 3 strokes, bilateral breathing, in between)/25m swim  

MINI DRILL 2 – ENTRY AND CATCH

4 x 50m 

25m scull/25m swim

 •

4 x 50m 

25m high-elbow doggy paddle/25m swim

 •

4 x 50m
freestyle with hand paddles

 •

4 x 50m 

6 strokes fists only/6 strokes swim 

MINI drill 3 – RHYTHM/PROPULSION

6 x 100m 

6 strokes catch-up/6 strokes full-stroke swim/6 strokes build/6 strokes sprint

20secs rest after each rep

COOL-DOWN

200m easy

ADAPT FOR BEGINNERS

Reduce all reps from 50m to 25m, so they’re broken down as 15m drill/10m swim.

ADAPT FOR IRONMAN

Your focus should be on swimming efficiency, optimising propulsion gains, while reducing drag and resistance.

THREE TIPS

kick on your side

Side-kick drills not only develop your front crawl leg kick, but they’re also great for advancing your streamlining and help develop whole body rotation.

Challenge yourself

Don’t get stuck in a rut. Challenge yourself with progressive/advanced drill sets that have a positive impact on your stroke technique… but don’t forget to have
fun doing it!

Focus on exhalation  

Breathing correctly is key to good technique. Focus on smooth, continuous breathing out underwater, and breathing in will become easier. Practise breathing to both sides.


 
 

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