Two swimming drills that improve every skill

Swim coach Andrew Sheaff presents two super easy swim drills that help improve every aspect of your swim performance…

Underwater shot of female swimmer doing front crawl in pool

Improving skill in triathlon swimming is hard. There are often a lot of skills that need to be improved, and not a lot of time. This can make it really challenging to learn all of the skills necessary to swim fast.

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As you might expect, I’m a huge fan of drills that solve a lot of problems at the same time. It’s efficient and effective. Rather than having to use 10 different drills for 10 different skills, you can get use 2-3.

Likewise, I like drills that have a goal beyond copying a particular form. I like having a concrete goal to focus on. In this article, I have two drills for you that fit the bill.

They tend to improve many skills at the same time, and you don’t have to consciously focus on any of those skills. Improvement just seems to happen. For the triathlete who’s short on time and doesn’t have a coach, that’s exactly what you want.

Swim silently

Next time you get in the water, don’t make any noise. None! You’ll find that your swimming is smoother and more effective almost immediately. Noisy swimming is often jerky swimming. And fast swimming is almost always the result of smooth and patient movements, even when they’re happening really fast.

Swimming silently will force you to smooth out your stroke, and that will pay big dividends. Once you get the hang of it, try to swim faster and harder without increasing the noise you make. When you can, you’ll be on your to faster and more efficient swimming.

Close your eyes

Start swimming with your eyes closed. More specifically, close your eyes when your head is underwater and open them when it’s time to breathe. By opening your eyes when you breathe, you’ll ensure that you avoid any collisions!

Humans are visual creates, and the sensory information we get from our eyes overwhelms all of the other information that’s available to us. That includes what you feel, and how well you feel is a big part of how well you swim.

By closing your eyes, you start to pick up on the details. You can better feel what’s happening during your pull and how you’re moving through the water. Simple awareness tends to create positive change, and beyond that, it creates awareness of what could change.

Once you’re aware of an opportunity to improve, then you can do something about it.

Putting it into practice

There are two different ways that you can use these drills. The first is to simply perform them while swimming. Just close your eyes when the head is underwater, or swim silently. If you’re brave, you can do both at the same time!

Then simply pay attention to what’s happening and make the changes that seem to make sense. You’ll hear the sounds, or you’ll feel the inefficiencies.

The seconds strategy is to use either of these drills in conjunction with your favourite drills. If there is a drill that you really enjoy, or one you’re struggling with, close your eyes or swim silently while performing the drill.

Doing so will help you get more out of the same activity. You’ll start to notice new opportunities for improvement that you otherwise would have missed. That means more progress!

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Top image credit: James Mitchell