The greatest swimming hurdle for many athletes is finding the time to fit training into an already busy life. The minutes wasted on driving to the pool or ocean, changing and then eating a post-workout snack can limit your time in the water and hinder your ability to become a better swimmer.
If you find yourself stressing about how often you get into the water, here are a few time-saving suggestions to get the most out of your swim workouts.
More: 4 Focused Swim Workouts
Build your volume by increasing your swim distance each week. For example, if you normally swim 2,000 meters per swim, increase your distance to 2,100 meters per swim on week one, 2,200 meters per swim on week two, 2, 300 meters per swim on week three and so on.
Switch up your main set by completing short, fast intervals in one session set:
The next time do a longer sets:
Don't forget to mix it up within each swim repetition, as well. For example, try 10x50 where every 50 is 25 easy, 25 fast or 3x300 (m) where each 300 is 25 easy, 25 race-pace, 50 easy, 50 race-pace, 75 easy, 75 race pace.
More: Swim a Faster 1,500 Meters
There's no such thing as getting too efficient in the water. Always build drills for body position, power and stroke into the warm up and cool down. The more efficient you are, the less energy you'll use. This is critical if you want to swim better, and will serve you well in the latter part of a race.
Watch yourself move through the water to spot problem areas. Have someone record you from the front, side and back and then compare your video to a top swimmer. Check for videos to compare yourself with on Youtube.com. Look for areas to improve on, like where your hand enters the water, whether you're swimming flat and whether you're doing a scissor kick.
Use a set of short fins like Zoomers to give you a little extra propulsion, especially when you're doing short fast sets like 8 to 20 x 25 (m), and when you're doing kicking sets. Be careful not to use them for the breaststroke because the fins will put too much stress on your knees.
More: 4 Ways to Improve Your Swim Technique
Training on land is just as important as training in the water. Here are three more tips to make the most of your time outside of the water.
Plan to work in four short-stretch cord sessions every week. Break down the stroke into its different movements: the front-end catch, full stroke, and backend push through. Log repetitions as well: 25 front-end catch, 50 full stroke, 25 push back finish. In all of this, focus on perfect form so you get the extra benefit of honing your technique while you're building swim-specific strength. Stand on pillows or a Bosu ball to build core stability too.
More: Learn the Lingo: Swimming Glossary
Tight ankles, shoulders, and hips limit your ability to get longer and smoother in the water. During your daily stretch routine, pay special attention to these key areas to achieve greater range of motion and, ultimately, longer distance per stroke.
Your imagination is a powerful training tool, yet it's often ignored. Spend a few minutes several times a week visualizing yourself being smooth and relaxed while swimming.
It takes great technique, frequency and volume to swim better. But, if you can't get to the pool as often as you like, use these tactics to build your confidence and abilities in the water.
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