Don't beat yourself up this off season mindlessly flogging away at massive amounts of yardage. For many developing swimmers, training smarter is actually the answer.
Many developing swimmers experience the same frustrations. Hours upon hours of training, only to experience marginal improvements. They ask themselves, “Why am I swimming so much and not getting any faster?”. It is because for many swimmers, more volume is not the answer.
The ability to grind through a long workout is typically not a limiter for an endurance athlete. But poor technique and reduced mobility may be an issue. So, do you want to develop a better swim this off season? Follow these tips to build a stronger, more sustainable, swim stroke.
1. Ditch the equipment
The off season is the time of year for you to work on your “feel” in the water. Buoys and paddles are great for building strength, power, and speed, but those items are a lot less beneficial without good technique. And if your technique would be considered very poor, then using equipment can even increase the risk of injury.
2. Improve Body Position
All great swimmers have one thing in common. They have amazing body position and body control through all phases of the stroke. Take an underwater video of your own swim stroke, then analyze it. Get feedback from an expert. Often, a small fix in body position does wonders for swimming efficiency.
3. Learn to kick
Your kick is a powerful tool for swimming propulsion. And contrary to popular opinion, you can use your legs while swimming and not burn them out for cycling and running. Developing your kick, allows you to offset your rotation and stabilize your core without creating drag. Many swimmers without a developed kick tend to open their legs during rotation to create this stabilization, thus creating a fair amount of drag. A proper kick creates a hip driven stroke which is massively more efficient.
4. Practice the Fist Drill
Swimming with your fists closed is a powerful tool for developing a better stroke. Do this drill slowly. The key to this drill? Use your forearm for propulsion, not your hand. Try to really feel the force of the water on your forearm.