In the early weeks of a season, there are a few key training elements you should take advantage of. With more time on your hands before your next competition, you have the opportunity to go back to the drawing board on technical elements of your swimming. Meanwhile, swimmers should include a high volume of kicking and underwater work to get back in shape after a taper. Let’s discuss how you can integrate these ideas into your training regimen.
1. Make Any Technical Changes. Now.
Swimmers make subtle adjustments in their stroke, turn, and dive technique all year to continue to improve, but the best time to really hone your technical skills is early in the season. Changes in your swimming can feel foreign and uncomfortable at first, so what better time to make necessary changes than early on? Whether it’s holding your breath for an extra stroke off the breakout, making your back to breast turn more seamless, or changing your head position to be more streamlined, good habits are the easiest to hold on to when you start the season with them. This gives you the whole season to refine the technique until it becomes automatic. Emphasize body position and stroke drills, practice good turns and push offs, and work on your dive mechanics at the end of a practice when you have time. When competitions come around, your technique will be engrained in your training, freeing your mind from thinking too much when you race.
2. Kick. A lot.
The fastest way to get in shape is through high intensity kick sets. With the majority of your muscle mass located below the hips, the sooner your leg muscles are conditioned, the more overall endurance, strength, and acceleration you will have. A solid foundation of kicking is applicable to all swimmers, regardless of specialty. Kicking on your back in a streamline engages your core muscles. This body position resembles swimming more than when you kick with a board, so vary your kicking positions to get more out of your workout.
3. Get Comfortable Underwater.
Phenomenal underwaters in meets come from being disciplined with your underwater work in practice. From the beginning of season to the end, you need to hold yourself to a high standard on every workout. If the maximum number of kicks you can take off each wall in a hard set is 6, then it needs to be 7 the next week. Staying under can be as mental as it seems to be physical. With more practice, any potential panicky feeling with underwaters will diminish. Build up your lung capacity by doing entire sets, even entire workouts, devoted to an underwater focus. On the days you are not doing underwater sets, you still need to use them in regular swimming to apply what you have trained. This type of training builds fantastic breath control, tolerance to lactate build-up, and mental toughness. The difference it can make in your swimming is on the order of seconds.
Begin integrating these training tips into your early season practices so they can become more automatic as you progress through the summer. Continue to push your own boundaries with these elements, and before you know it, your technique and fitness will be sharper than ever.
BridgeAthletic works with elite professional, collegiate, and club swimming programs to provide a turnkey solution for dryland training. Led by Nick Folker, the top swimming strength and conditioning coach in the world, our team builds stroke-specific, custom-optimized dryland programs for each of our clients. The individualized workouts are delivered directly to athletes via our state of the art technology platform and mobile applications. Check Nick and BridgeAthletic out as recently featured in SwimSwam.
Nick Folker is the Co-Founder and Director of Elite Performance at BridgeAthletic. Nick’s roster of athletes includes 35 Olympians winning 22 Olympic Medals, 7 team NCAA Championships and over 170 individual and relay NCAA championships. Megan Fischer-Colbrie works as the Sports Science Editor at BridgeAthletic. Megan was a four-year varsity swimmer at Stanford, where she recently graduated with a degree in Human Biology.
The Championship Series by BridgeAthletic is designed to empower athletes with tips from the pros that will help them reach peak performance come race day. We will be covering competition-focused topics such as nutrition, recovery, stretching, and mental preparation.