Swim Drills for Ironman Triathlon



SWIMMING DRILLS EXPLAINED
The purpose of the following drills is to be able to improve the feel for the water and economy of effort. Improved efficiency will help your swim fitness and to be as fresh as possible for the bike and the run. Being economical will make swimming fast seem easier and allow you to swim longer before slowing down.

CATCH UP superman position, do not pull thru until hand has stretched past other hand outstretched. Slow movement catching as much water as possible.

SINGLE ARM right & left- this drill makes you slow down the whole stroke, using a float between the legs or kicking more is required to keep you afloat.

CHICKEN WING thumb at right angles touches armpit fingers (below knuckles) trailing slowly thru water. This causes a high elbow which gives you a slow recovery, a swinging round of the arm has to cover more distance hinders recovery and causes you to be imbalanced in the water.

BI-LATERAL BREATHING- this is designed to balance out your stroke. Also when open water swimming you need to be able to take a breath each side. If you only ever breathe to your right and the waves are coming from the right and hitting you in the face very soon you will be swallowing water! Also breathing both sides helps you keep an eye on buoys, landmarks and other swimmers.

SIDE SWIMMING - swim on right or left side. Concentrate on kicking from hip. Lower arm out straight other arm single arm strokes. Aim for improved balance in the water.

CLENCHED FISTS work the forearm and you learn how to become more efficient not using your hands. Will develop forearm feel for the water.

PULL BOUY - Breaststroke with a pull buoy is a good sculling exercise and helps you learn the art of good feel for the water and improves shoulder power.

OPEN FINGERS - Fingers opened are good for warm down or warm up high cadence like riding a bike in an easy gear. This drill is used by top triathletes in the lake swim warm up, helps get the blood into the right muscles without creating too much fatigue.

KICKING - Hated by most swimmers but is good workout for you to improve swim balance. Aim to kick from the hips and not the knees.
Back stroke kicking putting your arms around a float is a good way to learn this and allows you to work harder than front crawl kicking because you can breathe all the time.
Front crawl kicking try and breath every 5-10 seconds other wise you will keep lifting your head and change your position plus this can cause strain on your lower back. You can breath sideways like you would do front crawl.

WATER POLO - Put drinks bottle so you can see it when swimming back or another colourful small visual marker. Aid. Swim one length easy then start treading water for 10 seconds then swim half length at sprint pace without breathing, continue swimming as fast as possible head out of water looking at marker. 15 seconds and repeat.

TRAIL - during recovery of stroke trail fingers thru water close to body. Helps improve high elbow and shorter route back to entry of hand into the water.

DOGGY PADDLE sculling is head out of water. KEEP head facing forward not moving from side to side. Keep shoulder just below surface of water. Drive arms forward alternately and then powering and pulling them back good to alternate this with flat out swimming.

STREAMLINE PUSH OFF
To learn the importance push off from the side of the pool.Avoid going deep, aim to be 1-2 feet below the surface and learn to be in a tight streamlined position as possible. Keep your hands together. You will soon find the best position, the better you are the further you will glide.
Progression would be continuing with 3 strokes. Learn when to start your stroke. Start too early and you slow yourself down leave it too late and you lose movement and the first stroke is juts bring you up to speed!

POWER PULLS can be achieved by tumble turning short of the wall so you are unable to use the push off, you will find yourself trying to pull away stationary this builds up swim specific strength. If doing this drill for the first time pull away at an intensity of 70% then 80% then 90%. Make sure you warm up properly before doing this drill.

TAP BEFORE ENTRY - After exiting hand from water get your fingers to brush on top of your shoulder then your top of head before entering the water. Improves high elbow recovery.

SCULLING with the hands to improve the feel for the water. You can scull in any position. The more you learn how to grab hold of the water the more propulsion you can generate. Just like a propeller the better the angle the greater the power. All the following positions help improve how to apply pressure on the water. We recommend you do all of the following scull movements during a 4 week period. Never get bored of drills, water is 360 times denser than air any small improvements make great gains in time and save you loads of energy.

Upright as though you are standing in the water, backstroke scull laying on your back hardly kicking your legs while going forwards or back wards, back stroke scull, Seated scull like sitting on a seat in the water, Somersault scull, front crawl scull with head out of the water, Sea otter scull with legs our stretched behind you and the familiar doggy paddle scull. The above drills will strengthen fingers hands wrists and forearms and ingrain the full stroke from start to finish.

Each swimming scull drill explained in more detail below. Like any new exercise build up slowly over 4-8 weeks. You are looking to develop more feel for the water and use fewer strokes. Take your time with scull drills do not rush them.

These drills can be done in a small leisure swimming pool when it not long enough for a proper distance session. Be productive and learn to feel the water with each stroke.

BACKSTROKE SCULL
Position – Float on your back with your toes pointed together.Description -Kick gently from your hips until you start sculling then stop kicking. Arms are straight down by your hips. Use a circular action.

Session - Scull like this for 15 second then increase to 20 -25 -30 seconds the progress to back stroke scull for one length swim for one length then rest for 30 seconds and repeat up to 12 times. This may take up to 8 weeks to complete full single lengths. We are learning skill so can take a while to master.Focus –Arms straight emphasis on wrist action. Feet together and on the surface.

Session – Go head first and for variety go feet first. Progression should be less wrist actions per length/width of the pool.

Tips – You need to keep your head up body straight and if you have more catch on one side you will not go in a straight line. Remember no kicking. S top if you experience any pain in shoulders or elbows.

DOGGY PADDLE SCULL
Position – In the front crawl position head out of the water you will be travelling forward. Legs trailing behind in the front crawl position.

Description – shoulders out of the water, elbows should be under your shoulders and your hands down in the water.
Bend elbows to allow your hands to be under your chin. Head out of the water at all times. Hands above your waist at all times. Learn to gain as much of the water as possible while moving hands slowly. Keep the arms in the water at all times and elbows in.

Take turns with each arm sculling back until the hand is level with the chest then bend repeat action first forward then back with other arm.

Session - Scull like this for a quarter of a length then continue to swim to the end as normal. Take 30 seconds and repeat 8 times. Next time Increase this to half a length then swim to the end. Next session swim three quarters of a length and swim then fourth session complete full lengths.
Tips – A swim pull buoy is useful to keep you high in the water and avoid you using your legs.

SEATED SCULL DRILL
Position – Float on your back with your toes pointed together then get into the tuck position with knees bent. Description – scull and feel the water under your knees backwards and forwards.

First scull for 10 -25 -30 seconds, twice the time recovery as the time taken to scull. Then progress to scull for one length swim for one length then rest for 30 seconds and repeat up to 12 times. Progression would be improving the wrist action to improve feel for water.

Focus –Stay in a seated position. Arms extended and focus on wrist action. Feet together and knees on the surface.
Session – Go head first and for variety go feet first. Progression should be less wrist actions per length/width of the pool.

Tips – Do not bend your elbows. You need to keep your head up body straight and if you have more catch on one side you will not go in a straight line. Remember no kicking.

TREADING WATER DRILL
Position - In deep water where your feet cannot touch the bottomDescription -Kick with legs scull with hands when you feel confident keep feet together then progress to cross legs.

Session - Scull like this for 15 second then increase to 20 -25 -30 seconds. This is a tough work out do not underestimate itFocus – keep upright, feet together head above water and move hands slowly at first and increase the speed.

Tips – You need to keep your head up body straight and if you do change your body position do it slowly while maintaining pressure with your hands and the water. Remember no kicking.

PUSH DOWN DRILL
Position - In deep water where your feet cannot touch the bottom keep your body upright and straight.

Description -Kick with legs scull with hands when you feel confident keep feet together then progress to cross legs. Standing up swimming bring elbow out of water hand still in water and push down along the side of your body.

Session - Scull like this for 15 second then increase to 20 -25 -30 seconds. This is a tough work out do not underestimate it.

SOMERSAULTS SCULL
Position - In deep water where your feet cannot touch the bottom. Description – Sink below the surface and curl into a tight ball tucking your chin into your chest. Arms out straight to each side. Scull in a circle like a baby bird trying to fly. You may find forward or reverse somersaults easier.

Session - Aim to do two forward or two reverse and work on your weakest somersault.

Tips – Breathe out slowly to avoid water going up your nose.

FRONT CRAWL SCULL
Position – In the front crawl position head in the water.Description – Kicking slightly and arm action should be as in doggy paddle learning to gain as much of the water as possible. Keep the arm in the water at all times. Stretch arm out under the water and pull back as in front crawl.

Session - Scull like this for a quarter of a length then continue to swim to the end as normal. Take 30 seconds and repeat 8 times. Increase this to half a length then swim then three quarters of a length and swim then full lengths over 4 weeks.

Tips – Remember to breathe normally pull back slowly.

HEAD OUT OF WATER SCULL
As above (front crawl scull) but with head out of water spending time to look more at your stroke and breathe.

SEA OTTER SCULL
Position – In the front crawl position head out of the water you will be travelling forward. Legs trailing behind in the front crawl position.

Description – arms by your side and elbows close to your ribs without touching and keep hands under your waist. Bend elbows to allow your hands to be under your waist. Head out of the water t all times.

Learn to gain as much of the water as possible while moving hands quickly. Keep the arms in the water at all times and elbows in.
Session - Scull like this for a quarter of a length then continue to swim to the end as normal. Take 30 seconds and repeat 8 times. Increase this to half a length then swim then three quarters of a length and swim then full lengths over 4 weeks.

Tips – A swim pull buoy is useful to keep you high in the water and avoid you suing your legs.