Swim Camps: Improving Your Freestyle Has Never Been So Fun

Stoke your stroke with a trip to Insta-worthy destinations with A+ coaches. Swimprovement has never been so luxurious.

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Stoke your stroke with a trip to Insta-worthy destinations with A+ coaches. Swimprovement has never been so luxurious.

Faster Freestyle Swim Camps

2-3 days, whenever you want them Kailua-Kona
Hawaii, $425 to $545 Karlynpipes.com

Great for: Tricky schedules and the Kona-focused

Your coach: International Swimming Hall of Fame athlete Karlyn Pipes has broken FINA Masters world records in all four strokes—on top of her 332 US Masters National records.

The deets: These camps are built around your specific needs—like fixing your sinking legs or breaking through mental barriers in open water—and can be held over a weekend, a week, or longer. Instruction involves both open water and Endless Pool sessions, with video analysis in the pool. Pipes keeps the swim sessions tight so you’ll have time to bike and run in Kona too. Bonus: IM World Champs hopefuls can learn swim strategy on the actual course.

You’ll be swimming: It’s up to you—yardage depends on the athlete, what you want to work on, and how quickly you catch on. Sessions usually start with a 30-minute talk about swim technique and 60 minutes of instruction, including video and analysis.

Insider tip: Consider booking your stay around a local tri or swim/run event for race-day instruction. Find events at BigIslandRaces.com

The Freestyle Experience, Barbados

Nov 3-10; check website for new additions
Barbados, $1,200

Great for: Masters vets craving new input

Your Coaches: Olympians are always on deck, and may include Katie Brambley (4×100 freestyle relay team, 2000 Sydney games), Tera Van Beilen (part of a dramatic face-off in the semifinals for the 100-meter breaststroke in the 2012 London games), and Andrea Smith (1996 Atlanta games and more recently, one of the top 10 in the world in the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter butterfly in the World Masters Championships).

You’ll be swimming: About two 90-minute practices a day (the week includes nine pool sessions). Open-water instruction (six sessions) is included, and camps are timed in conjunction with the Barbados Open Water Swim Festival (two days of open-water swim races, from 1.5K to 10K). Morning pool practices are followed by specific skills clinics. “Ideal for all levels from the slow lane to the go lane,” says organizer Katie Brambley. Since swimmers of all levels are in the pool, practices range from 1,200 to 4,000 meters per session.

Insider tip: If you want to cut costs and come with friends, the camp hotel (Coconut Court) will put four single beds in a room so you can share. More money savers: No car needed. All transit to practices is included—and so are trips to the local grocery store.

Best Fest Open Water Swim Intensive

May 26-June 3, Mallorca, Spain, $4,395
Includes meals, lodging, and travel around Mallorca. Flights not included.

Great for: Race-day instruction

Your coaches: Coaches include Olympian Kerri-anne Payne, the Mallorca to Menorca swim record holder Teresa Planas, pro marathon swimmer Alex Studzinski, and accomplished pool and open-water swimmer Beatrix Studzinski.

The deets: Best Fest emphasizes open-water but is designed for the multisport athlete and includes two days of cycling, one day of hiking, and daily stretch sessions—in addition to daily pool and open-water opportunities. It’s timed to coincide with four open-water races on the island. “The hotel is within walking distance to all open-water races, and coaches will walk to you to race start, give you a get-you-going pre-race prep talk, and cheer you on like crazy,” says Travel with Lipstick founder and triathlon coach Laura Cozik. “Some coaches may even jump in the water to race with you.” Although it’s organized under the Travel with Lipstick company, this is a co-ed camp. Bonus: This camp gives you the total team experience; you’ll train and race together—and party and eat all meals together, too.

You’ll be swimming: Six hours in the pool over the course of the camp. Pool sessions include tons of technique practice, running about 2,500 yards per session; seven hours in open water; plus four optional open-water races (5K, 4.5K, 1.5K, 2.5K).

Insider tip: Lipstick believes in traveling light, so laundry service is included.

Total Immersion (TI) Open Water Camp

March 22-26
Clermont, Fla.
$975 before Feb 1; $1025 after Totalimmersion.net

Great for: Confident swimmers looking to level up

Your Coach: Celeste St. Pierre is a master Total Immersion Coach and a USAT-certified coach with triathlon experience in all distances. Other coaches will be announced closer to the camp date.

The deets: This TI camp caters specifically to triathletes. Learn entries and exits, plus techniques for better sighting, buoy turns, and drafting— as well as strategies for developing a confident, relaxed, smooth, and fast swim. Can’t make the Florida dates? Check the website for more TI swim camps throughout the year in Kailua-Kona, HI; St. John, USVI; and New Paltz, NY.

You’ll be swimming: About three to four hours per day. Expect three open-water sessions in Lake Minneola, pool training at the National Training Center in Clermont, plus daily classroom sessions. Each practice is about 1,000 to 2,500 yards.

Insider tip: Bring your kicks. There’s a track right next to the incredible NTC facility and a nearby cross-country course for easy extra run training.

RELATED: Seeking a PR in 2018? Try One of These Epic Camps

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