Swimming requires a lot of technique and training for your body to perform the way it needs to. One way to do this is to practice swimming drills. There is an endless supply of swimming drills that work on the common issues swimmers have with their stroke. Target the weakness in your stroke and then find the swimming drill that works for you.
Extending your body and your arms helps create a fluid stroke and get the maximum distance out of each stroke. While you can subconsciously shorten your arm strokes in an effort to move faster, it is important to lengthen your body while performing freestyle for this stroke to be fluid. The catch up drill will help you become aware of how you should be extending your arms during your stroke.
Begin with your standard freestyle kick and pull, then keep your left arm extended forward not moving until you pull with your right arm and return it to the extended position. Then pull with your left arm and repeat the move on the other side alternating as you swim down the lane. As the name implies, this drill done properly feels as though your right arm is catching up to your left before you can perform the next stroke and vice versa.
More: 3 Drills to Fix Your Swimming Stroke and Eliminate Drag
The fingertip drag drill focuses on your arm position as you are recovering from each stroke. Dragging your fingertips across the top of the water as you recover from each pull forces you to control your arm movement. It also prevents you from wasting energy or moving your arms haphazardly after each stroke.
To do this drill, begin by swimming freestyle as usual, then after you pull under the water and begin to bring your arm back up, drag your fingers over along the top of the water as you return your hand to the start of the stroke position. Be sure to keep your elbows more parallel to the water. This drill helps bring awareness to your arm position during recovery.
More: 4 Tips for a Faster Freestyle
Pull and kick are the simplest of drills but they are an important part of any swim training regimen. Most YMCAs will have kickboard and pull buoys for you to use, but you can also buy them for pretty cheap.
For kick drills, try flutter kick, dolphin kick, frog kick or kicking on your back. While on your back, hold a kickboard just over your stomach and flutter kick. You can also try a butterfly kick like this. Kick drills on your back are beneficial because they help to use the opposite side of your leg muscles, which is not normally targeted.
Working with pull buoys can be a little awkward to start, but is great for developing a strong stroke and core. Simply place the pull buoy between your legs anywhere above your knees so that it feels comfortable. The key is to squeeze your legs together just enough to hold the pull buoy in place, but not waste energy squeezing too hard.
Traditional freestyle is a good stroke when using a kick buoy, or try mixing it up with some of the other swimming drills for more of a challenge. Also try pull drills on your back and with butterfly. Breaststroke can be awkward with a pull buoy, but you can try it if you're up for it.
More: 10 Elements of a Perfect Freestyle Stroke
Breathing drills are very simple and you can even improvise your own. A great drill to build endurance and lung capacity is a 3-5-7-9 drill. Use this drill while you are doing freestyle and count your strokes.
First count three strokes before you take a breath, then five and take a breath, then seven and take a breath and finally nine before you go back down to three. You can adjust the numbers to your abilities and try to set records for strokes without a breath.
Swimming drills can be a large part or a workout or just a warm up. Mix them into your next swim workout for to help improve technique and endurance.
More: Natalie Coughlin's Freestyle Kicking Tips
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