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Top ten ways to improve your swim form, speed and endurance this winter

Posted Dec 14 2010 10:00am

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The roof collapse has forced triathletes and runners (not to mention the Vikings who play football there!) to head elsewhere for their climate controlled jaunts, like Steve in a Speedo . But, they need to look no further than any indoor pool to keep in shape. Here’s a handy list of pool drills and equipment to keep you going when Mother Nature runs amuck!

1. Freestyle Volume

The best way to improve speed, endurance and form in the beginning of swim training is volume. If you aren’t swimming, you aren’t practicing the sport. Like any other disciplines of endurance sports, the more you are training in that sport, the better you will become.

2. Swim Paddles

The swim paddles are intended to force the swimmer to enter the water with a better angle to reduce drag from poor entry while creating more resistance from the catch and pull phase of the stroke. They may be awkward at first, but with practice they become an important part of the training arsenal by forcing the swimmer to use good form and creating strength in the upper body.

3. Swim Buoy

This piece of equipment is intended to remove your legs from the swimming equation. This forces the upper body to do all of the work by immobilizing the legs and isolating the arms.

4. Tennis Balls

In this drill, you will swim with tennis balls grasped in each hand. While it seems counterintuitive to swim with a fist around a tennis ball, it will improve your stroke and feel for pressure on your hand from the water. By eliminating the catch part derived from your hand, you will focus on catching water with your forearms which are often neglected as a key factor in propelling swimmers through the water. After working out with the tennis balls, swimmers can notice a heightened feel for the water and the pressure they feel on their palms. Jim Vance, Active.com (http://www.active.com/swimming/Articles/Dance-With-the-Water-Part-4-Tennis-Anyone.htm)

5. Kickboards

This piece of equipment is intended to isolate the legs and force all of the work out of the kicking part of the stroke. Swimmers can grasp on the kickboard and perform the freestyle kick or the dolphin kick where both feet are in sync while kicking.

6. Swim Suits with Mesh

Mesh suits are intended to add drag to the swimmer. This will create resistance and require the swimmer to put more work and effort into the swimming workout. Resistance from different types of swimwear can be effective, but it is also important to swim in apparel similar to what you would use in competition.

7. Flippers

Similar to the concept of paddles, flippers creates resistance for the kick portion of the swim stroke and force the swimmer to have a more complete kick in order to reduce resistance from swimming with flippers. They can improve kick strength, ankle flexibility, body position and increase speed in a swim practice. Mat Luebbers – About.com

8. Sculling

Sculling is performed by sweeping your hands through the water, holding your elbows still. Your hands are acting like propeller blades, and subtle changes in hand pitch and speed will change your body position and speed. There is no recovery motion. When you are treading water, you are sculling your hands through the water to hold yourself up and counteract gravity. To propel yourself down the pool, simply change your hand and forearm angle to be perpendicular to the pool bottom and parallel with the pool walls. Keep your elbows high at the surface of the water, and sweep your hands underneath (this is known as the "windshield wiper" drill). Note that your swimming strokes are a combination of sculling motions that allow you to hold the water as your large body core muscles act as the engine. – www.mvm.org

9. One Arm Swim Drills

In this drill, the swimmer will swim with one arm outreached in front while using the other arm to perform the freestyle stroke. Breathes will be taken out of the side that is used for the swim stroke. The swimmer will glide on the outreached arm while swimming with the other arm for the length of the pool. This forces the one arm to do all of the work and makes a swimmer aware of the need to perform a complete pull through to get all of the benefits of each stroke. 10. Alternate Stroke Counts for Breathing For this drill, the swimmer used alternating counts for strokes before taking a breath. Using a 3 count, 4, 5, 6 or even 7 can increase endurance and lung capacity while swimming. This will force the swimmer to hold their breath longer during workouts. When alternating back to a normal stroke count, it should become less rigorous to take in air for each lapse in breath taking.

10. Alternate Stroke Counts for Breathing

For this drill, the swimmer used alternating counts for strokes before taking a breath. Using a 3 count, 4, 5, 6 or even 7 can increase endurance and lung capacity while swimming. This will force the swimmer to hold their breath longer during workouts. When alternating back to a normal stroke count, it should become less rigorous to take in air for each lapse in breath taking.

Ryann Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com , and is a married father of two, owner of three dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001.  Ryan is also the Kansas Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughs HERE .  Contact Ryan at: falkeetriathlon@hotmail.com or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan

Follow on twitter @ everymantri or view latest videos on YouTube .


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