• Maria Netherland

Swim Drills To Help You Return To (Or Build) Good Swim Form

The day has finally arrived - your local pool is open! This is great news, right? You’ve been waiting to swim for months! You have races on your calendar for the spring and summer and swimming is required.


So you do what you have to do - sign up for a time slot or just show up to swim. You hop in the water and start your warm up. You get to your main set and have a couple of hundreds for time - just a check in - or, so your coach says.


You swim hard and fast and look at your watch and... oh no! Your heart plummets as you realize that your lack of swimming over the past 10 months has caught up to you and now you have a lot of work to do to get back to where you were before the pandemic.


Depending on who you are and how much you love (or hate) of swimming, this could be a 5 second difference or it could be a 30+ second difference per hundred between the swimmer you were and the swimmer that you currently are. So the question is, “how do you get back to where you were pre-pandemic?”


The answer is drills and quality yards/meters, remembering what you learned during drills! Repetition is the key to victory and the pool is no exception. Here are a few of my favorite swim drills that will help you build yourself into to the swimmer you want to be (or were a few months ago).


Single arm swim with kickboard and fins. Watch the video here. I like this drill because it really focuses on the reach, high elbow, and getting a good strong pull. The fins are great for propulsion and to keep you on top of the water and moving forward, especially if you’re not a strong kicker. You can do this drill with or without a snorkel.


Three-quarters catch up. Watch the video here. This drill helps you focus on a maintaining streamlined body position and helps you find balance in the water. You can add fins to help propel yourself through the water as you first learn this drill. It teaches you to not start your pull until one hand ‘catches up’ to the other hand that is out front.


Closed fist. Watch the video here. This drill teaches you that your entire forearm is a lever and can be used to help propel you forward. If you are having a hard time keeping your fist closed, put tennis balls in your hands and perform the drill. I do not recommend wearing fins during this drill because we’re focusing on the catch and pull of your swim stroke. Make sure you are assessing your form during the entire drill - body rotation is very important as it, along with the catch/pull help propel you through the water.


Perform swim drills regularly! They need to make up only a small, but consistent portion of your overall workout. I generally set up athlete swim sessions as follows: Warm Up, Transition Set (this is where the drills go), Main Sets (remember what you did during the drills and focus here), then Cool Down.


Happy swimming!

Maria Netherland is a Northwest Florida-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Endurance and Youth & Juniors Certified Coach as well as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist. Coach Maria loves working for athletes of all abilities, military athletes, and new triathletes as they pursue their goals. Maria is a veteran of the US Army and a United States Military Academy at West Point graduate. She can be reached at maria@teammpi.com.

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