SWIM COACH KAY LYNNE FIRSCHING GIVES US HER TOP 5 DRILLS TO BUILD YOUR FREESTYLE PERFORMANCE.
1. TARZAN DRILL: the aim of this drill is to get your hands landing in front of your shoulders, fingertips first.
Be sure to keep your head up and watch your hands in front of you. Make sure your hands are landing in front of your shoulders. Wayward hands over time can put you at risk of shoulder tendonitis or shoulder impingement.
This is also the case if your hand enters the water thumbs first. Therefore ensure your fingers enter the water before your arm is fully extendedl extend completely with your hand underwater.
2. CATCH DRILL: the aim of this drill is slightly pausing the hand at front of your stroke.
Bill Sweetenham, former national swim team coach for 3 different countries, said it best when he postulated three principles of fast swimming. One is that every stroke goes from slow to fast. It is slow at the front and accelerates as the stroke cycle is completed.
3. ROLLING: the aim of this drill is achieving a good ‘roll’ across the hips and shoulders can help extend your reach, make breathing easier and help elevate your hips.
Rolling is one of the most important techniques to master.
Swim Fins make the drill for this much easier. Kick on your side, bottom arm extended, top arm resting on your side. Side of your face is in the water. Kick one length on each side.
When you feel comfortable doing this, add this step. Kick 10 times, roll to the other side with your face going through the water. Blow out of your nose as you roll. Kick 10 times on your second side and roll. Repeat.
When this is comfortable, reduce the number of kicks to five.
Lastly reduce the number of kicks to three. Apply this body roll pattern to your freestyle.
4. DRY FLUTTER KICK: the aim of this drill is to minimise the size of the swim kick.
Effective flutter kick can be challenging to master. As Josh Davis, American record holder in the 200 free, said, “Flutter kick should be fast and skinny.”
Ideally you should feel as if your legs are long, your thighs are powering the kick, and your feet are along for the ride. Heels should be at the surface of the water. Knees should not drop below the front plane of your body. Ankles and knees should be loose and flexible.
Try this exercise on dry land to learn the motion: Stand in front of a wall. Extend one leg behind you pointing your toe as you go back. This is a small motion. If you lean forward, you are making the motion too large. Alternate legs.
5. HEAD POSITIONING: the aim of this drill is to achieve an ideal head position when breathing, which is to be looking back and slightly down while taking breath.
To practice this, try looking towards your elbow as your arm comes out of the water.