I have spent most of my life in the pool. For this reason I have had about 20 years to develop a good stroke, but I am still trying to make changes and become a more efficient swimmer. For most triathletes this is not the norm. Most come from a non-aquatic background and you are trying to figure out your stroke for the first time. My professor in my motor learning class at UC Davis once told us that it takes a million repetitions for a specific movement to become what is considered learned. If you average 20 strokes a lap that would be 50,000 laps or 1,250,000 yards before your Freestyle stroke would become a learned movement. Now because most of us don’t plan on swimming that far in the course of our lives, let alone while we are training for a race, there are some specific things that we need to work on in the pool to maximize our ability to swim the Freestyle stroke.
As we are moving towards the off season for triathlon we have a great opportunity to revisit our Freestyle stroke before we need to work on our aerobic base. Over the course of the next few weeks I will be going over a few key areas of Freestyle in order to help you get the most out of your swim training.
If you are a triathlete that has a strong background in cycling or running, your race strategy is probably to get through the swim and then start your race. There is certainly nothing wrong with this strategy, and therefore your swim should be as efficient as possible so that you can minimize the amount of energy used in the water. The first step to becoming a more efficient swimmer is establishing the correct body position, and we are going to go back to the basics here: floating.
Once you have established the “neutral” body position, I recommend doing a few laps of kicking on your stomach using the Alignment Kickboard and the Swimmer’s Snorkel. Using the board and snorkel will allow you to find that ideal position without having to lift your head to breath. Kick with a steady, moderate kick while doing this drill. You can also do this exercise using the Z2 Zoomers for some added propulsion.