Category Archives: Swim Fitness

Drills, Drills, Drills!

Hey there RYPEness!!!

How many of us can relate to this picture? swimYesterday I had to send out a tweet about how cool it is to watch new swimmers start to “get it”. Remember: good swimming equals efficient swimming and efficient swimming comes from drills that reinforce that efficiency. Kind of sounds like physics equation, doesn’t it? Anyway, I thought that some of you out there in triathlon land -and beyond- might want to know which drills we are currently working on that are getting these awesome ladies to their “AH HA!” moments. Incorporating these into the beginning of your workouts is a really good idea….always.

Kick On Side drill. Why? This drill promotes good balance in the water. Serious swimmers use kicking on side during warm-ups and during the active rest portion of difficult swim training sets. If your kick is currently weak, use flippers and then slowly wean your way off of them as you get stronger. To know what your body position should feel like, stand up and raise either your right or left arm, and you want to raise it like you are really reaching to the sky in an effort to try to stretch your body out. Keep the opposite arm straight down and stuck to your hip/thigh. Pretend that hand is in your pocket and therefore cannot move. Position your head so that it appears you are trying to smell your armpit. No, seriously. When you need to breath, your head is going to rotate on a swivel so that now you are trying to listen to your armpit. No, seriously. Smell the armpit, listen to the armpit. Smell the armpit, listen to the armpit. Without seeing you can now actually visualize the head movement, cant you? AH HA!

Now….check out this video of good form while executing Kick On Side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mjZsk8L0M0

Shark Fin drill. Why? This drill ALSO promotes good balance in the water. This balance thing is a repeat offender with the topic of swimming…balance is KEY! We in the triathlon swimming world tend to call that side kick position when you are listening to your armpit the “sweet spot”. It is perfect balance in the water AND you can breath. So to start the Shark Fin drill, begin in the same position as you would for the side-kick drill. Lift your elbow on the arm closest to the surface of the water up toward the sky…creating a ‘shark fin’. You do this by dragging your hand up the side of your body until it reaches your armpit (never thought our armpits would get so much love, did you?) or until you’ve made a shark fin. Once there, simply slide the hand back down your body to where it started.

Now…check out this video of good form while executing Shark Fin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwQ3l5YyloQ

Fingertip Drag drill. Why? Fingertip Drag is one of the oldest swimming drills in the books. It’s survived the test of time because it’s not only simple to explain but also incredibly effective. Fingertip Drag can help you practice a high-elbow recovery, and can help you achieve a relaxed hand during the recovery. The drill requires that your body be balanced, and that you use full body rotation in order to complete the drill correctly. That’s a lot going on for one drill, but it’s super effective!! We accomplish this drill by keeping your fingertips in contact with the water, and keeping the hands close to the body, and it causes you to then maintain a high-elbow recovery. Remember our previous drill? See how these build on each other to develop a highly efficient stroke? AH HA!  In order to SKIM the surface and not simply JAM your hand forward with a sloppy splash, you need to keep your fingers relaxed and under control. After your hand passes the shoulder, extend it forward and focus on staying long while the other hand is recovering. You will always want to keep your head down, and your body balanced.

Now…check out this video of good form while executing Fingertip Drag: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XITzpum5lxA

And there you have it. Three relatively easy but extremely effective drills that will develop you into an efficient, thus good, swimmer!

In no time you will be executing your swims with ease, just like this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pt2jxlkNpw

Hyped 2b RYPE!!!

Get Your Stretch On!!

Hey there RYPEness!

We are getting hot and heavy into our training. Runs are getting longer, rides are getting longer, swim workouts are getting longer!! Although we are looking and feeling great, our muscles are definitely taking a pounding. More often than not, we feel that the amount of exercise that we are doing is more than enough (two-a-days on a reg now!!), and therefore our body needs to be subjected to no more.

…au contraire mon frere! Ya gotta stretch. Two main reasons:

  1. Elasticity! Our daily training requires that our muscles endure a LOT of repetitive motions, and stretching properly will help our muscles push through this. The more elastic our muscles, the more flexible we are. The more flexible we are, the less prone we are to having our muscles tighten up on us during a race! AND!…Flexibility = Increased Speed. Yeah baby.
  2. Injury Prevention! Besides getting all elastic n’ stuff, stretching prevents us from getting injured. As we training, we are building our endurance, which is allowing us to swim, bike and run farther distances. Stretching and having flexible muscles substantially minimizes the chances of pulls, tears and cramps. So you need to ensure you are doing the proper stretches before and after your training sessions.

 

So there ya have it….why you should stretch. Now, I guess you are wondering how you incorporate this. Well, your most intense stretching should always be done AFTER your workout. That’s when you muscles are warm and soft….so you get a better stretch. Your stretch before the workout should be more to loosen up. Also, make sure your stretches are static, meaning not bouncing. You want to stretch to a point of discomfort, but not pain…and hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds.

Here is a list of some good stretches to do:

You can usually run through these stretches in about 15 minutes. So make sure to just pad incorporate that time into you total workout time…BECAUSE ITS KEY TO YOUR RYPENESS!!

See ya!

OK…..its POOL time!

Hey there RYPEness!!

I came across a really good article on swim drills for triathletes. However, I think these same drills are good to do even if you are not getting ready for triathlon event.

 

Swim Drills for Triathletes

By Lisa Wolf

drillsEach time triathletes hit the pool deck, they are ready to challenge themselves and work towards the goal of getting faster and more efficient in the water. To many, this means long distance sets for endurance or speed sets for increased anaerobic development. One of the most overlooked areas in training is the use of swimming drills. Taking the time to “break apart” a stroke (and yes, sometimes that includes strokes OTHER than freestyle) by learning to do something slowly, with specific focus, can reap benefits during a race.

Here are a few swimming drills to spice up a workout to improve technique, as well as to provide a bit of recovery between sets:

Kicking Drills
I concede that kicking during the swim portion of a triathlon should be kept to a minimum to conserve leg strength for the bike and run but that doesn’t mean that you should never kick during practice! These drills work on body position as well as kicking. Remember, a good flutter kick is about 12-16” deep in the water. Only your heels should be popping out on the downward kick. And don’t forget to kick UP and DOWN with flexible ankles. Don’t drive the kick from your thighs — it should be hip driven and snap your toes down with you knee bending slightly. The advantage of a solid kick is that it creates the balance needed to have a good stroke rhythm.

  • Body Position Drill #1 – Hands on the end of the kickboard, arms fully extended and kickboard flat on the water. Head should be down between the arms, ears even with the arms and gentle flutter kick. Lift the head up to breath. This reestablishes the correct horizontal plane for minimal drag and combats “uphill” swimming.
  • Body position Drill #2 – Repeat the same drill but move one hand to the middle of the board, the other remains at the side. Kick gently and rotate to breath. Keep the head down (ear at arm) and focus on gentle rotation to breath. See how little of your face you can keep out of the water, maybe only to the point past your nose. Repeat on the other side to promote bilateral breathing comfort. For weak kickers, fins may assist in finding the correct body position.
  • Tombstone drill – Put the kickboard out fully extended in front to look like a tombstone and start     kicking. The goal is to keep the maximum amount of the kickboard in the water you can handle. It is an excellent body awareness and balance drill while stressing the legs.

Stroke Drills
A triathlon swim is all about efficiency and stroke rate. The best way to think of this is that you want to get the maximum distance per stroke with the most efficient stroke rate to maintain “steady state swimming.” It takes practice to find the perfect ratio between the two but working on creating excellent technique will assist in getting the most out of your swim.

  • Fingertip Drag – swim with high elbow recovery and “drag” fingertips forward in the water from your exit to your entry point out in front. Relax your arm and hand in the recovery phase to keep it loose and engage the upper back muscles (traps/lats and rhomboids) to ensure you are not swimming with just your rotator cuff and shoulder muscles.
  • Crossover Drill – Repeat Kickboard Drill #2 but swim with a single arm. If you are crossing over in front of your face during your entry, you will hit the kickboard with your hand. Focus on entry outside the shoulder and away from the board. This will decrease the chances of shoulder impingement/injury. Switch arms to practice both sides.
  • Fist Drill – Swim with fists lightly clenched through the full stroke. Notice the forearm position (high elbow, or “EVF”- early vertical forearm, under water) and feel the water on the forearm. Do not drop elbow. Pull water straight back past the hip with minimal sculling.
  • Breathing Pattern Drill – swim set of 4 x 200, breathing every 3 strokes on odd 25s and every 5 strokes on odd 25s. You must slow down to do this drill correctly and be able to keep the pattern. Don’t forget to exhale slowly underwater so you can grab a full breath on the breathing portion. You most likely will have to hold your breath for a second or two, especially on the 5 strokes.
  • Water Polo Drill #1 – swim 25s (or partial 25s) with your head out of the water looking forward. Do not swing your head from side to side but focus forward. This will help develop the neck/back muscles for open water sighting. Be careful if you have neck or lower back issues and don’t overdo this one.
  • Water Polo Drill #2 – in the deep end of the pool, tread water with breast stroke or eggbeater kick (alternating one legged breast stroke kick) with your hands on your head or above water. This will drill will simulate the treading done at the beginning of an in water start. Build up from 3 x 30 seconds to 3 x 2:00 over time.
  • Buoys and Turns #1 – practice swimming 5 strokes of freestyle and then 3 strokes of breast stroke for several 25s. This allows you to practice slowing down/speeding up if you encounter a crowded area around a turn buoy or have to maneuver around a group in a straightaway.
  • Buoys and Turns #2 – swim 4 strokes of freestyle and cross your arm over your body and swim 3 strokes of backstroke for a 25. Not only is this the beginning of a backstroke flip turn (bonus), it allows you to practice adjusting goggles during a race with ease as well as working on mastering a fast turn around a buoy.

Each and every swim practice should include drills. It allows you to refocus on technique at key sections of the workout. As you tire, technique begins to suffer, so taking a few minutes with any of the drills is a productive use of your valuable time.

Lisa Wolf is a certified coach with USA Triathlon and USA Swimming. Her swimming background also includes a Level II ASCA certification and Level II certification with USMS.

 

Have a great day RYPEness!

 

Swimming….the complete body workout!

Hey there RYPEness,

I happen to be a member of a Master’s Swim Program and I love it! I think a lot of people see these programs and get intimidated by the word “Masters”. However, in the context of swim programs, “Masters” means over the age of 20. So….no more excuses if you have a program near you that you can join! It really is a lot of fun. In my program there are all levels of swimmers and all kinds of reasons why each belongs. Some of us are triathletes, some folks use it as part of their weekly fitness program. There are some twenty-somethings all the way up to some fifty-somethings. Some of us are slow, some are really fast. But, at that end of that hour we all have had a great workout and feel very energetic for the day ahead. Swimming with the group provides a social element, and also provides the competitive challenges that make you push yourself to go a little harder for that last lap, or minute or drill.

I just read an article on swimming and it totally speaks to all the reasons why YOU should get in the pool! Check it out:

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/fitness-basics-swimming-is-for-everyone

Hey YOU….get in the pool!

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Hyped 2b RYPE!