Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Swim Coach Sez.... Straighten Up!

How many times have you been in the open water, heading towards where you think the next buoy is, when you look up to sight and find you're twenty degrees off course in just seven or eight strokes? Here's a drill I had my swimmers do last night:

Pick an empty lane of the pool - this might be tough, but if you do an early or late swim you might be able to find an empty lane for just a length or two. Swim straight down the black line. Close your eyes for as many strokes as you feel brave enough to try. I had my swimmers start with four strokes. Open your eyes and see where you're at.

Many of us have subtle imbalances to our swimming strokes. We might pull harder with one hand, or cross over our center line with the hand on the side we breathe to. Our mind uses visual cues to keep re-straightening us out when we're in a pool. But get in the open water and those little imbalances can add up to a zig-zagging swim that adds hundreds of yards to your race distance. Additionally, any subtle course-correcting we do in the pool can lead to "fishtailing" where you have a wiggle to your stroke. Drag caused by eddies or vortices from these small fishtails have a large effect on your overall drag coefficient, so eliminating this effect is beneficial to speed and endurance.

When we close our eyes in the pool, we can concentrate on swimming straight, then open our eyes and see how we did. If we notice which side we're turning to, we can think about what we're doing and try to correct it. Anyone who competes in the open water could stand to do this drill as often as possible until they can successfuly swim an entire length of the pool straight without opening their eyes.

1 comment:

janasmama said...

What a great idea. I am doing this during my next swim.