During each workout, I make sure that I am thinking about my distance per stroke. I want to make sure that I am getting the most efficient use of each pull. I focus on keeping my lead arm extended — gliding — while my pulling arm is generating forward movement.
One of my favorite sets I use to practice distance per stroke is called Pool Golf. I might do, say, 8 x 50s on 1:30, which gives me plenty of rest. I count the number of strokes I use to complete the 50, counting each arms stroke as one. I then add this number to the number of seconds it took me to complete the 50.
So, if I swam the 50 in 35 seconds and 25 strokes, my score is 60. I will try to improve this score by, either, swimming faster but keeping my stroke count the same or swimming the same time but reducing my stroke count. Ideally, I’d reduce both my time and stroke count.
I am looking to establish a long but powerful stroke. I want to make sure that I am making the most of each pull, by finishing through to my thigh while my lead hand rides the momentum.
Try it! I hope it helps.
One of the most challenging aspects of open water swimming is taking a direct route. Unlike a pool, there aren’t visible lines running underneath you to help you swim straight. Open water swimmers must lift their heads, occasionally, to spot a buoy or landmark.
Keeping the head in the water during freestyle helps maintain a correct body position. Lifting it, however, causes the feet to sink…especially if the swimmer is not wearing a wetsuit, which helps buoy the swimmer.
If some of your swim practices are in a pool, consider a set of 100s. Three times each 25 — or six if you are swimming in a 50m pool — lift your head and spot the end of your lane. Then, focus on returning to a good body position. To make it a little harder — and a bit more fun — think about spotting things that you know are on deck…but move around. For example, I’m going to spot a 3 kickboards, Coach John, objects on starting blocks, time on a pace clock, etc. This adds a little more realism, as you search for an object.
But, remember, the purpose of this exercise is for you to practice returning to a good body position after lifting your head to spot the buoy. Have fun!