Building strength through swimming alone can be difficult. With proper strength training on land, and with resistance tools like stretch cords and parachutes in the water, swimmers will increase their power with each stroke. Let’s discuss which components of your training will help maximize your power in the pool.
Resistance Training on Land
To develop power, you must challenge your muscles with a sufficient load, or resistance, and work against that resistance with explosiveness. What does this mean for your strength training? Each power exercise must be completed with a combination of quickness and force. Many strength exercises can be executed to mimic the power necessary in the catch motion of swimming. Some of these exercises include pull-ups, push-ups, and lat pull-downs. After swimmers develop a baseline level of strength, pair a power phase with competition season to maximize the strength gains. Resistance training can be achieved through either bodyweight resistance or regular weight training.
Resistance Training in the Pool
Stretch cords and parachutes are great tools for resistance training in the pool. Don’t have either? Simply strap a stretchy band around your ankles, grab a pull buoy and paddles, and you’ve got a great way to work your catch and body position with your feet causing additional drag. Stretch cords will immediately reveal the dead spot in your catch because any slip will cause you to lose ground in the tug of war between you and the cord. Parachutes can help you develop power if you wear one during a sprint set, such as 25’s or 50’s fast with additional drag. They also expose parts of your catch that are too slow or missing altogether.
Whenever you are focusing on power—whether it is in the pool or on land—execute your movements with explosiveness. Resistance training is a fun way to help you find which part of your catch needs improving!
INITIAL CATCH TECHNIQUE
At full reach and without dropping your elbow, feel like you are tipping your finger-tips over the front of a barrel (again flexing at the wrist), which will start the catch.
At the same time start bending the elbow and pressing back on the water with the forearm in a near-vertical position.
This is what keeping your elbows high on the catch is all about.
A memorable way to think about this action whilst you are swimming is to visualise a smiley face drawn on the palm of your hand. As you start the catch, tip your finger tips down and show that smiley face on your palm to the wall you just left. This is like locking your hand in place, effectively feeling-the-water.
You will now be pressing the water back behind you rather than pushing it down.
Pose in the Mirror:
It may sound corny but looking at yourself in the mirror and practicing your stroke can help you visualize and practice what you should be doing in the water. Stand with a straight back in front of your mirror with one arm extended above your head and one are at your side. Then bring your extended arm down, bending and “pulling” with a 90 degree bend. Make sure your hand does not cross over your center axis. As you pull down, let our other arm float up and extend above your head.
(Advanced) Use a Vasa Trainer. If you have access to a Vasa Trainer, this can really help you “get” the high elbow catch on dry land. There are several workouts listed on their website (vasatrainer.com), but here’s an idea for a quick
If you have access to a Vasa Trainer, this can really help you “get” the high elbow catch on dry land. There are several workouts listed on their website (vasatrainer.com), but here’s an idea for a quick 15 minute workout, focusing on high elbows:
-2-3 minute warmup, moving your arms as if you are doing freestyle
-3 rounds of one-arm drill. 20 strokes right, 20 left. Focus on keeping the elbows high.
-3 rounds of 10 of the 2-stroke drill (2 right, 2 left, alternating)
-”Swim” full stroke freestyle for 5 minutes. Keep your focus on high elbows.
You’ll also enjoy:–
- Basic Swimming Skills That Count
- What is the benefit of stroke analysis?
- The Swimming Science Behind an Awesome Warm-Up
- 9 one-line tips to How to Become a great swimmer
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