The Ideal Swim Workout: A Swimspire Approach

The Ideal Swim Workout: A Swimspire Approach

The Tarzan Drill - taken from Swimspire's instructional video collection

The Tarzan Drill – taken from Swimspire’s instructional video collection

By Julia Galan

If you are a swimmer who has struggled with improving your speed and efficiency in the water, or a beginner trying unsuccessfully to develop a foundation for your new sport, you are not alone. Without a clear understanding of swimming mechanics, or proper guidance, many swimmers get frustrated when trying to create workouts that will translate into improved results.

Although your initial thinking may be “full stroke, full stroke, and more full stroke,” you may need to rethink that philosophy. Swimming full stroke does build strength, but gaining strength is just one piece of the puzzle. Efficiency in the water is one of the most important ways to gain speed and achieve maximum results for the amount of energy you put in to your swim. That efficiency is achieved by a few key elements that come together to create the perfect swim workout: stroke analysis (whether including video or an on-deck analysis by a coach), the right amount of yardage, and the right combination of drill and fullstroke sets.

At Swimspire, we believe that swim workouts should be individualized to the swimmer, and we have the luxury of being able to create customized workouts for the competitive swimmers, open water enthusiasts, triathletes and fitness swimmers that we work with. Here’s how we break it down:

1) Stroke Analysis: This is one of the most important steps to creating good workouts. We frequently analyze our swimmers’ stroke technique, whether via video or on deck, to see what areas of the stroke need work, where the weaknesses and strengths lie, and whether there is any area that is at particular risk for injury. Workouts are then adjusted according to stroke technique needs. Reviewing the assessment with the swimmer allows him or her to also gain an understanding of what needs to be worked on and why, which is essential to helping swimmers gain the knowledge that they need to become better swimmers overall.

2) Assessing Yardage: The amount of yardage that a swimmer needs depends on a number of factors. Your swimming background, for example, is one such factor. How much have you swum in the past? How comfortable are you with structured workouts? Another factor that goes into this assessment of yardage is the swimmer’s goals. Are you training for long distance swims? Triathlons? Or is your goal simply to stay fit? How often do you swim per week? Do you swim all four strokes or do you specialize? All of these questions and many more will help determine the yardage that is appropriate for you. Additionally, yardage can and will be adjusted according to your level, progression, changing goals and life events that may impact your ability to work out.

Peter Galan demonstrates the catch up drill featured in our video library

Peter Galan demonstrates the catch up drill featured in our video library

3) Workout content: The content of a swimmer’s workouts is, of course, of utmost importance. You can churn out plenty of “junk” yardage (ie large amounts of yardage that are swum without purpose or thought) without any advancement towards your goals – and without variety to the workouts, swimming can turn into a mindless exercise. Instead, armed with a stroke analysis and an understanding of the swimmers’ goals, we create purposeful workouts that seek to achieve the perfect balance of drills and fullstroke. Every step of the workout, including the warmup and warmdown, is thought through.

Drills – as we define them – are different from what many swimmers are used to. Commonly, a “drill” is often meant to be interpreted as “fullstroke swum slowly and with more (supposed) emphasis on technique”. But this “E-Z” swimming often only reinforces flaws in stroke technique. It is very difficult for a swimmer to simply incorporate good technique into fullstroke. Our drills are geared towards the swimmer’s areas of weakness. They allow you to isolate and concentrate on specific areas of your stroke technique, improving muscle memory by reinforcing the proper movements as well as building strength.

As much as we love administering the right drills to the right swimmer, however, a workout consisting only of drilling will be less effective than one that combines drills with full stroke sets. This combination serves several purposes: it allows the swimmer to incorporate what he or she learned in the drill into the fullstroke, it builds both technique and conditioning, it develops a more balanced and efficient stroke and will also help prevent injuries.

Single Arm Butterfly Front Breathing (Swimspire instructional video collection)

Single Arm Butterfly Front Breathing (Swimspire instructional video collection)

What are you waiting for? Let’s get started. Check out our Services page here to start with a video or on-deck analysis, and then move on to workouts that are designed specifically for you. Looking forward to working with you!

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