|Bag of tricks - kick board, paddles, fins and pull buoy.|
I've been using a swim coach for 3-4 months now. I've always realized that it was helping, though I was frustrated by a lack of progress as compared to gains I've made with running and biking. But in the last 2 weeks, I'm hopeful that a swimming renaissance has begun. I've finally been convinced that it's time to focus more on drills and less on slogging away in the open water with crappy form.
It seems that my form has improved enough to bring the training to a new level, because my coach has added pull buoy, fins, and paddle drills into the mix. You guys know me well enough to know that I am always up for new gear, yet the swimming stuff felt counter-intuitive at first. My stubbornness, often based on nothing even remotely substantial, was saying that swimming was all about the yardage. Time in the saddle works for the bike, right? Time on the road works for running, right? Then why is swimming any different?
Yeah, well I've finally been convinced it doesn't work that way. But the good news for me is that when the light bulb goes off I'm happy to go all in. Better late than never, I suppose.
Paddles with a pull buoy? My body roll improved immediately. And for the first time I could really feel how I was using my leading arm to push my head out of the water to breath (and slow me down) before I started the catch.
25 yard intervals with a kick board and fins? Love them. I'd do them until my legs fell off if I could.
But my favorite is kicking with fins on my back while rolling left to right. If I want to breathe I need to keep my lower back and butt up, otherwise I sink. And when you are on your back and able to calmly do length after length, you get a new understanding of what it means to be comfortable in the water.
I hope these drills pay off in the long run. I'm thinking at least 50% of my off season swim training will be drill focused.
The refocus on swimming all goes back to my race results. My bike and run are fairly competitive, usually good enough to place me close to the front of the pack in my AG. But I always blow the swim. And though I don't do this to win, It wouldn't suck if I podium one day.