For triathletes, the swim is usually categorized one of two ways – “love it” or “hate it”. It is often that athletes seek swim coaching because they have the later view yet must achieve minimal efficiency to race. Admittedly, as an athlete and coach I have personally vacillated between the two categories for years.
With time, my intention is to explore and share many aspects of swim training but this discussion is focused on a basic component that I’ve seen both experienced and beginners find equally challenging… comfort and breathing in the water.
Lets face it, we are not natural water beings. If that were true, we might have gills instead of lungs but that would make land activity awkward. Instead we have the ability to adapt to the foreign medium.
Are you comfortable in the water and able to hold a long relaxed streamline and breathe? This key position must be achieved to optimize efficiency as a swimmer. Can you develop a swim without this ability? Absolutely, but if a relaxed, quiet horizontal position is difficult, then the effectiveness of all other swim drills and proficiency gains will be compromised.
Here is a simple test: Place a pull buoy at your ankles. Then, face down, hold onto the side of the pool in a “superman” position. Can you quietly raise your head to breathe or do you find yourself wiggling and moving about? Here is an example of athletes performing the drill at one of our adult camps
How did you do?
Were you steady? Were your arms straight and holding your body with relaxed steadiness?
If yes, awesome and you are ready to move onto the next challenge… move the pull buoy to between the knees and go onto your side holding on with one arm, the other arm is at your side in a relaxed position. You should be able to feel air on the top of your hands. Can you breath under water then gently turn your head to get a breath?
How long did you give yourself to take a breath? were you able to count to (5) SLOWLY on the inhale and exhale?
Perhaps you found one side easier than the other. This too is enlightening about swim posture and efficiency.
Did you find yourself frustrated and, simply, gave up? If so, remember this is an exercise in learning about body awareness in the water. There isn’t a way to work harder to achieve this drill. It’s about relaxing and feeling the water, to work with it and not muscle through it.
Practice these drills and your efficiency in the water will improve. If these drills are a challenge, spend 5min before or after swim practice each training session and then complete the designated workout. Consistency will create improvement.