5 Drills to Make You a Better Swimmer

Don't sabotage your performance by avoiding these simple exercises
Editor

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Swimming is a low-impact sport, perfect for anyone who wants to stay in shape but not sweat at a gym or is recovering from an injury.

The aerobic exercise strengthens muscles you didn’t even know you had along with major groups like the shoulders, backs, legs, core and glutes. The trick is that you have to move a lot in a way the body is not used to.

This is where drills come in. They can really come in handy if you are interested in triathlons but the race in the water is your weak spot. Getting better at swimming can be the “make it or break it’ factor in winning the entire event.  

Whatever your reason is to take up the sport, you don’t have to be in top shape to excel at it.

Heads up drills

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Heads up drills, also known as Tarzan drills, are very helpful, Jenna Parker, former professional triathlete, 3x USLA National Champion, and a 2013 Aquaphor NYC Triathlon winner, says. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book for open water swimming. It is used to strengthen the trapezius muscles on the back of the neck and the back itself.

U.S. Master Swimming suggests you swim freestyle with head and face held completely out of the water; keep head/face pointing forward; don't rotate neck to breathe to the side; arch back to keep legs and feet near the surface of the water; engage a strong kick to keep lower body from sinking.

Unco drills

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“Close your eyes and swim as hard as you can,” Parker says. “Then stop and look around. This is how you can tell or you’re going left or right when swimming.”

This will allow help you get a better understanding if you need do one-armed swimming to balance out. This is called the Unco Drill, short of “uncoordinated” and it’ll help transform the rhythm and timing of your stroke.

Flip turns

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If you can’t swim in open water as practice, you have to hit the pool. Being able to execute a proper flip turn enables you to best mimic the flow of open-water swimming—meaning your body never stops, according to Active.

Open turns are not the best drill because they don't mimic that motion. Think of it as a half somersault.

Touch and go

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Practice reaching out as far as possible during the recovery portion of the freestyle stroke. Don’t get into the habit of short and choppy arm strokes. This means you’ll have to make more strokes to swim the same distance as everyone else, and then means you’ll get tired much sooner.

During this drill, reach out in front of you during the freestyle stroke and take advantage of your arm’s length.

Rollover drill

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The Rollover Drill provides the opportunity to feel pressure on the palm and forearm. This can be the different in making huge progress, as Coach Jim Vance says in the YouTube video. The drill forces swimmers to find this pressure and apply it in their stroke.

Rollover Drill - 3 Strokes Free, 2 strokes Back, alternating back and forth. If you do this right, you will launch yourself, and find a lot of speed.  

More readings: 

How to Prepare for Open Water Swimming

The Best Accessories for Indoor Swimming

World’s Most Beautiful Places for Open Water Swimming

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