Diversify Your Swim Drills

These swim sets will take you out of your comfort zone to focus on technique and find new speed.

Photo: John David Becker

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Too often, triathletes get stuck in the freestyle “groove” by doing the same thing over and over in the pool. And while that might result in swimming a little bit faster, it does nothing for preparing for the unknown.

Try some of the unusual drills in this month’s Quick Set to feel the water in a new way:

„- No Walls is a great way to mimic open-water swimming by forcing you to turn around in the pool 2–3 meters before you get to the wall. This removes the few seconds of rest that we get after each 25 yards in a typical training session.

- Band Only will severely limit the use of your legs to keep your body afloat. It will encourage a faster stroke rate and emphasize how much trunk strength is necessary to keep your legs near the surface.

„- Backstroke and Breaststroke are very important tools for every triathlete. Being comfortable rolling onto your back to rest, catch your breath or adjust your goggles can change the outcome of a stressful situation in open water. Breaststroke is great for sighting the buoys and staying on course.

„- Feet First, especially if you’ve never tried it, can be quite the challenge! Common methods are sculling overhead while on your back or backward freestyle on your stomach. However, it is completely open to interpretation, and the point is to try something new!

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„- Challenge yourself to get as far as possible across the pool with No Breath. Try different methods, like sprinting or staying slow and smooth, and try to beat your previous distance each time. Most importantly, get comfortable with regaining your breath by staying calm!

„- Placing a Buoy Between your Ankles puts your body in a very unique position along the surface of the water. You can learn a lot about how to stay horizontal when swimming by observing how your body compensates for balance in this position.

„- Try a Somersault in the middle of the pool to build your overall water confidence. Not only do you have to complete a 360-degree circle under the water, but you have to regain your forward movement, try not to get dizzy and still race the guy in the next lane!

„- There are very few instances where an age-group triathlete will have to Start from a Dive but that’s not a good reason to never learn or practice your form. Work on a good streamline position to carry over as much speed as possible from the dive into your first stroke.

„- The Scull drill is popular to engage the muscles used for catching the water at the start of each stroke. Try scullling with a pull buoy to float your legs and remove any propulsion from kicking.

RELATED: In Defense Of Swim Drills

The Workout

Choose a set based on your ability level. The A set is based on intervals of 1:20–1:30 per 100. The B set is based on intervals of 1:50–2:00 per 100. The C set is 2,000–2,500 yards total and based on a rest interval.

500 warm-up (No Walls—turn at the “T” or before you get to the wall)
6×75 on 1:30 (back/breast/free by 25)
8×50 on :55 with band only
500 as 25 feet-first/75 swim, repeat
6×75 on 1:25 (25 no breath/50 swim)
6×50 on :50 with buoy between ankles
500 swim (somersault in middle of each lap)
6×75 on 1:20 (start from a dive)
4×50 on 1:00 as 25 scull/
25 swim
300 cool-down
Total: 4000

500 warm-up (No Walls)
4×75 on 2:00 (back/breast/free by 25)
6×50 on 1:15 with band only
400 as (25 feet-first/75 swim, repeat)
4×75 on 1:45 (25 no breath/50 swim)
6×50 on 1:00 with buoy between ankles
300 swim (somersault
in middle of each lap)
4×75 on 1:45 (start from a dive)
300 cool-down
Total: 3000

400 warm-up (No Walls)
4×75 with 20 sec rest (back/breast/free by 25)
4×50 with 15 sec rest with band only
300 as (25 feet-first/75 swim, repeat)
4×75 with 20 sec rest (25 no breath/50 swim)
4×50 with 15 sec rest with buoy between ankles
200 swim (somersault in middle of each lap)
4×75 with 20 sec rest (start from a dive)
100 cool-down
Total: 2300

More quick set workouts from coach Sara McLarty

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