Last week I went to a swimming clinic and I promised to tell you guys all about it. I’m going to tell you about the drills we did and tools we used. I will be sharing the tools I like from Finis. I am a Finis athlete and I do have a discount code (jbirdruns20). This post is not sponsored by Finis and I don’t get anything if you use the code. Totally up to you if you’d rather get fins, caps, ect from your local sporting goods store. I’m just sharing things I love from a company that has supported me! You can easily find similar products at most any Big 5, Dicks Sporting Goods, ect.
Ok, with that out of the way – let’s dive right in! Hahahahaha. That was what I like to call a Dad Joke. You’re welcome.
We learned how to the drills from this video to work on our connections.
We finished with a drill called “Set Up & Drive.” I found this drill “clicked” the most for me. For this drill, we used fins. The swim instructor explained that using fins is especially good for runners because we are constantly pounding our ankles into the ground. The fins help increase mobility and stretch them out.
Something that we didn’t talk about at the clinic, but that I love doing, is using a pull buoy. You can put it between your legs and then swim with sculling paddles/fins on your hands. Here is a video that shows that. It really teaches you how to use your arms, and for runners, it helps save your legs. I love this pull buoy from Finis. Most pools have ones like this, and that works perfectly too. Here are the paddles I use for my hands.
We also practiced having good posture while swimming. Our urge is too look up and ahead while we are swimming, but it is actually more efficient to keep your chin tucked and just look slightly ahead. The coach said the idea was to keep the bump between our shoulder blades where our neck hooks into our backs from poking out. This tool from Finis would let you know if you were doing it while you were swimming alone. I have one and I really like it. I should probably wear it all day long ha!
The last thing that we learned which was pretty ground breaking to me was that using a snorkel is one of the best things you can do to practice correct form! I was worried that using a snorkel would be kind of “cheating” and that you shouldn’t do it. But the coach explained that not having to worry about turning your head to breathe allows you to build muscle memory when doing the drills.
I started off swimming by just doing the breast stroke for an hour at a time. It was pretty boring, but I had a stress fracture at the time, so that was really all I could do. I’ve since built up to trying different types of strokes, doing drills and swimming for yardage – not time. One of my favorite workouts to do lately is 4,000 yards – 8 sets of 500 yards. I do 2 rounds of: 500 yards with flippers doing set up and drive, 500 yards with the pull buoy and paddles, 500 yards of alternating back stroke and free style focusing on posture. For the 7th set of 500 I try to think about incorporating EVERYTHING I just practiced. And for the 8th set of 500 I think about nothing and just swim.
Lastly, I do use my Garmin Fenix 5S Sapphire in “indoor pool” mode to count the laps. Before I had a watch that had a swimming mode, I just counted in my head and I hated it. Obviously, you don’t need to count laps or anything like that, but I liked having something to show how many I’d done and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. If you don’t have a running watch that does not have a swimming mode, and aren’t ready to make an expensive watch upgrade, this swim tracker watch for $50 is a great option.
I hope that helps you find some inspiration to swim! Just remember that you don’t need any of this stuff to start, and that just getting in the water and trying will do your body so much good. Swimming is my favorite way to cross train. I think it really helps flush the crap out of your legs and gives you a low impact way to work on your cardio vascular system.