Building ‘High Catch’ Muscles in a Backyard Pool

Backyard pools can be an ideal resource for competitive swimmers and triathletes to keep their ‘swim bodies’ in shape while their local pool is shut down.  We know that our local pool may open up and then be closed again for much of 2020.  So if you have access to a backyard pool, it is probably your best option for being ready to race after the pandemic is over.  Here is an article that helps you dig into how to use interval intensity and high resistance to use very short pools for a very strong workout (

Vertical sculling is a great way to build very swim specific upper body strength at the same time as your core muscles.   This is not a commonly used drill in our industry yet but can be ideal for any swimmer and certainly great for those using short pools.  In a nutshell, it involves a combination of body positions with the core and backbone straight up and down with the head out of the water and the arms precisely moving back and forth to support the body.

Basic Sculling Key Rules:

  1.     Make sure the elbows stay in place, at the water surface
  2.     Use as much forearm as possible
  3.     Thumbs face down as your sweep out, pinkies are down as you sweep in
  4.     In general, advanced swimmers will require 10-20 min of vertical sculling to gain maximum benefit.  This process should be repeated until AFTER you begin to feel the results in our arm, back, finger muscles.  Typically 3-5 min can be used in a single body position.
  5.     Do not rest at all during your sculling set, change body positions every 3-5 min without any pause or rest until you have 10-20 min of non-stop sculling.


  1.     Vertical Sculling: body straight in the water moving whole body forward as one unit. As your pool depth makes your feet hit the floor, scull backward
  2.     Knees to chest: bring knees to chest. Keep your bottom pointed to the floor and your spine straight.
  3.     Sitting Scull: Legs straight out, keeping the bottom pointed to the floor and toes pointed straight forward (about 1 foot below the surface).
  4.     V-sit scull forward: toes breaking the surface, pointed toes, keeping the bottom pointed to the floor, body in a V shape, body pointed forward and moving forward/backwards
  5.     V-Sit scull side-to-side:  same as above, but sculling side-to-side with body pointed to the side

Look at the video below for further explanation.

For other drills and set components check out our Free Shared Doc (

Digging deeper:

  1.     Add Power Bags to the forearms to increase the drag
  2.     Add Flat Paddles with no finger strap to work on the turns
  3.     Add Touch Paddle to increase the surface area of the hand to increase muscle engagement
  4.     Add Brute Paddle to take away the power of the hand and focus more on how to maximize the forearm
  5.     Weight belts are an ideal way to increase the workout intensity.  Do not overdo the weight.  Most swimmers in middle and high school can use 4-12 pounds of weight.

For more information about why and what equipment is the best go to SwimSwam’s article here (  

Putting in the Work (a mini set):

Alternate on different days:  bare hand , Resistance Gloves , Displacement Brute Paddles

3 min Vertical Scull

3 min Knees to chest Scull

3 min Sitting Sculling

3 min V-Sit Sculling

See Backyard Pool Resistance Kits

Additional Sets and Components 


ABOUT ONESWIM.COM, A SWIMMERSBEST BRAND is leading the way for the future of swim training equipment.  The company offers a broad range of solutions for improving stroke technique, kick technique, and breathing technique.   They provide swimmers, coaches, and teams with the tools they need to balance technique training with conditioning training.  By combining the best drills with the best tools, the SwimmersBest products give swimmers instant tactile feedback so they can adjust their technique efficiently.   The old way of having coaches constantly remind swimmers of their individual problems has proven to offer very little improvement in technique.  All SwimmersBest products are designed to constantly ‘talk to the swimmers’ so they can feel the problems and make corrections.   This unique approach means the swimmers are given negative feedback for incorrect stroke technique, which compels the swimmers to quickly correct the problem on their own. With a constant flow of new innovative product designs, SwimmersBest is a company that will continue to deliver solutions you need.





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