Instead of focusing on what you didn’t do in the winter months, focus on how to maximize your time before your first races.

Two shortcuts to get back into real training in the pool.

The off-season is winding down and what’s done is done. Instead of focusing on what you didn’t do in the winter months, focus on how to maximize your time before your first races. Consistency and time in the water are imperative to developing and refining stroke mechanics, but luckily there are some things you can do to buy time on the swim with a small training investment.

RELATED – Ask Coach Sara: Returning To Swimming After A Break

Bring your bands

When your goal is to swim faster, power and mechanics must be dialed in to get you moving. A set of resistance bands (aka stretch cords) can be an easy way to supplement your swim training, as well as reinforce specific stroke movements. Try to incorporate a 15-minute bands workout twice a week (find one here). Excellent for traveling, a workout with bands can take the place of a swim effectively when need be. Perhaps most importantly, warming up with a short bands routine before you race will fire off the specific muscles you’ll use during the swim. The routine creates the neuromuscular connection to tune you into the fine motor skills/mechanics you’ve been practicing.

RELATED: How To Maximize Your Swim Block Training

Watch the clock

It’s easy to go through the motions of logging yardage and ignore intervals and speed as you’re getting back into full-on training. The clock can be intimidating! Keep your eyes on a goal, though, by deciding on the time you hope to achieve at your race, and loosely base your workouts around building up to that specific pace. Having a metric to work with, such as time, allows you to chart progress, assess effort and gauge upcoming workouts accordingly. Beyond this, interval-based training individualizes the workouts to your unique goals. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all in swimming. Staying focused on you—your strengths and your weaknesses—will always produce your best results.

RELATED: Dry-Land Strength For A Stronger Stroke