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Alternative motivators for getting in the pool this winter.
Every athlete should take a mental and physical break after the race season. But, after a two- to four-week hiatus for rest and recovery, it’s time to dive back in the water with fresh objectives.
Get personal stroke instruction.
Look for private coaching from a knowledgeable and experienced swim coach, specifically with a triathlon focus. Use word-of-mouth recommendations as well as Internet searches. Working with a local coach is advantageous because you can see him or her multiple times and easily schedule a follow-up session a few weeks later. However, if you are traveling for work or pleasure, check if anyone at your destination is renowned for his or her ability to improve technique and efficiency.
Improve your kick.
Use the winter months to become a stronger swimmer from bottom to top. The benefits of having a strong kick include a well-balanced stroke, increased core strength, quicker starting speed and strong hip flexors (used in cycling and running). Mix up kicking sets with different body positions in the water: Use a board, kick on your back, go face-down with a snorkel or try vertical kicking.
Enter a swim meet.
Competition is the key to staying motivated during training. Search for a local Masters meet online (Usms.org) and register as an individual or as part of a team. Pick the longer events and work on endurance and pacing and enter the sprints to improve speed and strength in the water. If a swim meet holds no appeal for you, schedule a monthly 1K time trial into regular training. Record the overall time to track improvement and use 100 splits to judge pacing ability.
Start a strength routine.
Increase power in the water by building strength in swimming-specific upper-body muscles like the lats, triceps and pectorals. Prevent shoulder overuse injuries with shoulder rotations and elevation exercises using resistance bands and light weights. Improve core strength with balance poses like a forearm plank to aid in endurance and maintain technique during long swims.