Ask Coach Sara: Finding Motivation To Swim When It’s Cold

Your Twitter questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach and professional triathlete Sara McLarty.

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Your Twitter questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach and professional triathlete Sara McLarty.

Q: How can I find motivation to keep swimming in the off-season, especially when it’s cold? –@WGWheelWorks

A: Finding motivation during the winter is tough. The days are shorter, the temperatures are colder, and the races are far off. The best motivation is to find training partners! No one likes to work out alone, but everyone loves to train with company. Search out a local Masters swimming group with fun coaches. Make a deal with your training partner to hold each other accountable (e.g., if you don’t show up to practice, you owe him a beer and vice versa). Organize a weekly meet-up at the pool. The more reasons you have to go to the pool, the less likely it is you’ll hit the snooze button!

RELATED: Why Does Swimming Make Me So Sleepy?

Q: I signed up for Ironman Florida a year from now. What should I focus on in the off-season? —@mish0603

A: If you have a year to prepare for an Ironman, spend this time improving your technique and body position in all three sports. This is the perfect opportunity to develop a more efficient stroke technique in the water, a more powerful and aero position on the bike and a more economical running stride. Work privately with a coach or sports professional to discover any body imbalances before you dive into the long training days. Use this time wisely to address your technique so you can train for the race without any setbacks from injury.

RELATED: Your Off-Season Swimming Goals

Q: What are the best drills to develop and strengthen the catch phase of the stroke? —@bpalas

A: This phase of the freestyle stroke can be challenging because it requires flexibility, strength, timing and positioning. Here are a few ways to practice in the pool:

Sculling. Propel yourself forward with just a quick back-and-forth movement of your forearms in the high-elbow-catch position. This will help you feel the water, improve strength and increase flexibility.

Holding your paddles. Wrap your hands around the edge of your paddles, ignoring the straps. Part of the paddle should extend past your wrist and onto your forearm. As you swim freestyle, the paddles will prevent you from bending your wrist and force your elbow to pop up during the catch.

Single-Arm Drill. Look forward under the water and watch your arm/hand during the catch phase. I suggest wearing a snorkel so you don’t have to worry about breathing interrupting your stroke. Watch underwater videos of the professionals so you can try to mimic their catch in the pool.

Got a swimming question? Coach Sara wants to help. Just tweet your queries to @SaraLMcLarty. Pro triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty has 25-plus years of experience and
knowledge about swimming mechanics, efficiency and technique.

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