Category Archives for "Swim Training"

Swimming Drills

Swimming Drills for Triathletes

“Swimming drills every Triathlete should know. Read it now!”

Swimming Drills

Swimming Drills

Of the three disciplines in triathlon, swimming is the most difficult and critical to master. Swimming has many degrees of freedom, as compared to running and cycling, because of a lack of sturdy connections to firm ground. As an activity’s degrees of freedom increase, so too does the difficulty to master its mechanics.

While running, you usually have one foot in contact with the ground, providing one less degree of freedom than swimming. Cycling, on the other hand, allows constant contact with the saddle, both hands and both feet, accounting for five fewer degrees of freedom than swimming. In swimming, there are really no solid contact points and plenty of opportunities to create your own problems.

Pool swimmers can be very graceful and fast, but may have difficulty translating this in-pool speed to the open water.

It is the front-end focused swimmers, with a long glide, strong catch and low turnover/cadence, who are most efficient in calm, smooth, non-crowded waters. However, this group is often out swum in the open water by the high turnover crowd as they thrash through the waves with a strong back end to their stroke.

One of the most frustrating challenges for swimmers with poor mechanics is that they may spend countless hours in the pool, swimming hard, but fail to make any significant progress in their open water swim speed. This equates to a misappropriation of the athlete’s “stress budget”, because a good deal of stress is utilized with little or no return on the investment.

Problems and Solutions
Swimmers have a variety of common problems with their mechanics, including poor balance, missed catch and low cadence. Here are some swim drills to identify stroke mechanics that may be handy when underwater video analysis is not readily available.


Use this as a metric to measure streamlining and body balance. The golf test is performed by swimming 50-yards and recording your time, in seconds, and the total number of strokes it takes. Take the sum of these two numbers and that is your score.

Like the sport of golf, the lower the score, the better. A score that is above 65, for taller athletes, and 75, for shorter athletes, is typically indicative of the need for work with balance drill sets to improve streamlining.

100 No Kick, 50 Kick

This test helps identify propulsive needs. Swim a 100-yard time trial (TT) without kicking at all, followed by a 50-yard TT using a kick board. Then divide your time for the 100 yards by your time for the 50 yards.

If this score is outside of the 1.50 to 1.70 range, then you should either be working more on your kick propulsion or your upper body propulsion (i.e. arm position, catch, pull, follow-through). A ratio that is greater than 1.7 is indicative of relatively weak upper body propulsion. A ratio that is lower than 1.5 may point towards a weaker kick.

The TI (Total Immersion) Family of Swim Drills
This series of swim drills mainly addresses balance and streamlining issues. But, once you fix your balance issues, avoid these drills because they tend to slow swim cadence and increase front end glide.


If you have: Poor balance, straight arm recovery, cross-over and/or disconnected shoulders and hips.

Swim 100-yards, the first 50-yards with closed fists, and the second 50-yards with open hands. This helps to improve the catch phase of your stroke, by making you very conscious of your arm and hand positions, following the fist lengths.

Aerobic Paddles

If you have: Missed catch.

This helps to improve swimming-specific strength and the catch phase. Using paddles in an aerobic manner, similar to the 50 fist/50 free drill, forces you to become more aware of your hand positions, through the entirety of your stroke.

Ankle Bands

If you have: Missed catch, weak back end, and/or strength limiters.

Ankle bands shut off a swimmer’s kick, forcing them to balance their body in order to create a more productive forward pull. Forward velocity helps create balance and is a function of good mechanics. This swim drill is very effective for most triathletes, as it addresses almost all common deficiencies. More at Swim Drills for Triathletes

You can also check out this video for more Swimming Drills:

More Reading for Swimming Drills here:

Triathlon Swim Training

Top 10 Tips for Your Triathlon Swim Training

“Top 10 must read tips to ace that Triathlon Swim Training. Read it now!”

Triathlon Swim Training

Triathlon Swim Training

For a lot of people getting started in Triathlons, the swim portion is the most difficult of the three disciples. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

10 Swim Tips for Triathlon Training:

1. Relax: Swimming when done properly is a smooth and fluid. It’s hard to be smooth or fluid if you’re tense. One of the best ways to relax is exhaling. Everyone remembers that they need to inhale when their face is out of the water but some forget it’s also import to exhale when your face is in the water.

2. Learn to Breathe: Let’s face it, even if your technique is flawless, if you can’t breathe your not going to be able to swim very far. Turn your head to the side to breathe. Don’t pick your head straight up, when you lift your head your hips sink and this creates drag.

3. Work on Good Body Position: They only way to get faster in the water is to increase force and/or reduce drag. Reducing drag is the easiest of the two and one of the best ways to accomplish this is by working on good body position in the water. Again your head controls your hips. Keep your head down when you’re swimming and keep your hips and feet close to the surface of the water.

4. Swim on your side: When you take a stroke you should be rotating to your side. By rotating you reduce drag in the water and make your pull more powerful, because you are engaging you core muscles instead of just using your arms.

5. Play Golf: Probably not the kind of golf you’re thinking. Swim one length of the pool. Counted the strokes you take and time yourself, then add the two together (ex. 21strokes + 18seconds = 39) lowest score wins. The idea behind this game is to work on distance/ stroke without sacrificing speed. Once you’ve gotten your lowest score ask yourself, “is this a pace I can hold for a long period time?” say 10-15 minutes if you’re training for sprint or maybe even over an hour if you’re training for an ironman.

6. Don’t just swim: All too often when I ask people what they did for their swim practice they tell me they swam for 30, 40 or however many minutes. They have no idea how far they swam or at what pace they were swimming. Work on drills, long continuous swimming, and timed intervals

7. Share a lane: Whether you’re doing a wave start (group start) or a time trial start (one person at time) at some point during the swim you’re going to have people around you. By sharing lanes with people you become more accustom to things that are going to happen in open water. Such as getting bumped, getting splashed when you breathe, and having someone swim right beside you. The more you practice it, the easier it will be on race day.

8. Sighting: This should be the only time you lift your head while swimming. Every six to eight strokes lift your head to make sure you’re still on course. You can do this by using landmarks, such as trees, houses, buoys, etc.

9. Practice Open water swimming: This goes back to the old saying “practice makes perfect”. Swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. In open water, you don’t have a black line on the bottom to make sure you’re swimming straight, you may have to deal with waves or a current, and you might not be able to see well due to sun or fog. The more you practice open water swimming the more comfortable you’ll become and the easier it will be.

10. At the end kick it in: The last 100 or so yards start kicking a little more. You’ve spent the entire swim using mainly upper body muscles. By increasing your kicking cadence you’ll get more blood flowing to your legs which will make standing up and jogging to the transition area a lot easier. It should also help warm your legs up for the bike. More at 10 Swim Tips for Triathlon Training

Additional Triathlon Swim Training Tips in this video:

More Reading for Triathlon Swim Training here:

Swimming Drills

Swimming Training for Beginners: Breathing

“Giving you important breathing tips for your swimming training. Read it now!”

Swimming Training

Swimming Training

Breathing — it comes completely naturally to all of us. It is an activity that will function without interruption or conscious thought under the control of the autonomic nervous system. When necessary, we can assume conscious control in order to increase oxygen supply while under stress or in a fight/flight state of mind. In our world, triathlon equals a fight/flight state.

Breathing is easy on the bike and run. While there are a few tricks to rhythmic breathing in both of these legs, you don’t have to move around and ask your surroundings permission in order to get a breath. In swimming, you do.

From a beginner standpoint, the two most important aspects of breathing in swimming are becoming comfortable with:
1) your face in the water while swimming
2) a rhythm to your breathing

Face in the water
Keeping your face in the water is step one, because if you swim with your head up or your face out of the water, your legs and hips will invariably drop. A high-head/low-hip position requires you to push more surface area through the water, creating more drag. This makes it harder to swim because there is more resistance. Imagine cycling with a parachute attached to your back. This will force you to take additional rest breaks in training or on race day as your heart rate increases and you cannot keep up with the oxygen demands of your muscles.

There are different tricks to keeping your face in the water. Be sure to have comfortable goggles. Focus on looking at the bottom or staring at the black line down the center of the lane in the pool. If you experience anxiety related to submersion, take a lot of rest breaks and remember that as far as pool training goes, you are never very far from the wall and an exit. Private swim lessons and a lot of practice will help.

Rhythmic breathing
Once you are comfortable keeping your face/head in the water while swimming, you need to figure out how and when to breath. The critical action here is to begin exhaling through your nose/mouth as soon as you finish breathing in.

The major problem I see with beginner swimmers related to breathing is that they hold their breath while their face is in the water, then tries to exhale and inhale very quickly when turning to breathe. This results in a poor, shallow breath and a quick buildup of carbon dioxide in the lungs. Swimmers will have to stop and take a break in training or roll over on their backs to catch a few deep breaths in racing.

You must exhale while your face is in the water. So when you turn to breathe, your lungs are mostly empty and ready to accept a fresh breath of air. You do need to force the rhythm a bit. You should forcefully exhale through your nose/mouth as soon as you complete the breath. There’s no pausing. It is a constant rhythm.

Two- or three-stroke breathing
The good thing about three-stroke or bilateral breathing? It will help you create and maintain an even stroke and improve mechanics on both sides of your body. The bad thing? It increases the time between breaths by 50 percent over a two-stroke or one-sided breathing pattern. That is a huge decrease in total oxygen flow while swimming.

My advice is to include bilateral breathing in your workouts during warm-up, drills, easy aerobic sets and short sprints like 25s and 50s. Switch to one-sided breathing for moderate/hard-distance and mid-distance sets. If you want to continue working on stroke balance, breathe to the left going down the pool and to the right coming back.

The main problem with breathing to one side all the time is that it usually creates a hitch or imbalance in one side. Typically one side becomes a bit stronger and you will veer off course in open water. The main benefit, however, is more air, which is nice when you are trying to swim fast. More at Swim Training: Breathing for Beginners

More Swimming Training tips on this video:

More Reading for Swimming Training here: