Monday, October 4, 2010

Swimming - This Time It's For Real (Hopefully)

Bag of tricks - kick board, paddles, fins and pull buoy.
Luckily, my constant frustration with swimming is subordinated by the desire to become a better triathlete.  So every few months I find myself circling back to refocus on swimming.  I've mentioned in the last few weeks that after the Orange Country Triathlon this weekend, I'm going to go into "off season mode" which will consist of a 1/2 marathon training plan and more swimming.

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.


valen said...

one more item. Rubber band. Get a motorbike tire and cut a band of about 1in. you get that to tie your ankles together when doing pull buoy and buoy and paddle.
and then all out with no buoy.
All the best in your endeavours

Julie said...

Hi Kovas,
I wish that I could swim better! It would be such a great cross-training alternative for me. I just suck at it! I love the idea of getting a coach:) Good luck!

Quinton J said...

homie...when's/what's your next race?
I've been focused on running (not much room in my life right now for Tris)...But I've got the itch. No...not THAT ointment for that...the other kinda' itch. The Ironman itch. You're blogs not helpin'.

Quinton J said...'re blog gives me an itch.

Pahla said...

I'm all about the gear, too. I have a pull buoy and fins, but I've never used them together.'ve inspired me, might be a swim day today!

Unknown said...

just did 1200 yds of pull this morning. My shoulders will be screaming now for the rest of the day!

Try ditching the kick board for a few sets -- you'll really feel it in your core!

Emz said...

please tell Q - there are other places to complain about "itches" like dr offices.

but ummm, I'm buying my bike Saturday - come hell or 50 miler.

KovasP said...

It might suck to podium because I, for one, would have much Higher expectations of you then.

Barbie said...

My kinda post. Love the swim bag and all it's goodie's. Enjoy using them all.

Lindsay said...

sounds like you are really making some progress! i've used swim toys before but i guess not the right way it seems, haha.

Aimee said...

It sounds like we're both in similar situations with the swim being are weakest area. Good for you for working with a coach and really focusing on your swimming! After my marathon I'm really going to focus on mine b/c I'm tired of being so slow all of the time!

DRog said...

Cant wait to hear about your OC swim! I now dont blame the CEP's 100%...but they are still bearing some of the blame...and of course none of it your fault haha. I used them 3X in LONG training runs it went fine. On deeper review I now think over hydration on Coconut water and potassium levels was my issue. The CEPs probably had little to do with it. Im still cutting them into little pieces

Rock that swim bro!

The Green Girl said...

Good luck! ::fingers crossed::

Sara said...

This blog was perfect. I just went to my swim coach for the first time yesterday. Two days before my husband went to him (his second time to go) and he got drills. We discussed how we could do drills one swim day and the next do distance. That all changed when I went to the coach. He said I need to get my form down first. I am not to fun stuff to swim with yet but maybe I will get there during offseason!

Glenn Jones said...

All three of my kids swam competitively through high school years with the club team at UC Irvine. I used to watch them do these drills and never understood the reason for them. Now I know!

Have you thought about joining a master's swim club? There's a good one at UC Irvine....


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