Thursday, January 17, 2013

Swimming Technique For The Win

As a swim coach, my greatest satisfaction comes from helping people make swimming easier, faster, and more enjoyable by fixing technique problems that are slowing them down and/or causing injuries.

This week was breakthrough week for many of my swimmers, and nothing makes me happier.

In my Monday Swim Conditioning class, we use a performance metric called the Swim Golf (sometimes abbreviated as SWOLF):

Each Swimmer goes 50 yards, counting their strokes (each arm stroke counts as one). They also keep track of their time for the 50 yards. Their Swim Golf Score is Time (in seconds) plus Strokes. Just like in regular Golf, under 70 is optimal. The idea with swim golf is to swim as efficiently as possible as fast as possible. If you swim fast by churning the water, you may get a faster time, but in the long run the energy hit will be too great to keep up. So a balance of long smooth strokes and stroke turnover is needed to get a good swim golf score.
EVERY ONE of my swimmers improved their Swim Golf scores!!!  My least experienced swimmer came down from 115 to 95, and my most experienced shaved off 7 points from 70 to 63, and everyone in the middle experienced similar improvements. This comes from weekly drills where we focus on improving different elements of the stroke for greater efficiency. And it works!

The next day, two of my Masters swimmers told me they had hit PR's this week. Yeah!

And then in a private swim lesson, a swimmer had a wonderful breakthrough. We were working on hand entry - on angling the hand down for a nice entry and a smooth long glide. As we worked through the drills and integrated it into her stroke, she commented that yeah, this was nice and all but she was swimming so slow, how could she hold this technique and actually get faster?

In answer, I timed her while she was swimming. When I told her how fast she was swimming, she wouldn't believe me until she watched the clock herself: She was six seconds faster per 100 than her normal pace, and all with so much less effort, it felt like she was swimming "slow". Now that's one of those moments where I jump up and down on the deck like a demented cheerleader.

The bottom line people: if you want to get faster in swimming, don't just crank out the yards. And don't get your buddy who used to swim in high school 20+ years ago to look at your stroke and give you a few tips. Find a masters group or a good swim coach and work with them to improve your technique. You'll save yourself some future swimming-related injuries, swim smoother, faster, and have more fun!


Michele said...

Hi! I follow your blog and I was wondering if you ever look at videos and offer advice?

Robin said...

Yes I do video coaching. I will send you an email with details.