Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Swim, Swim, Swim your arms off

December is all about the swim! But it is so early, you ask? Not for refining swim technique its not!!

Last Saturday AM, @ 6:15 in the pitch black, I did my first of six swim workshops with my coach over in Monroe, CT. Yes, the 1 hour drive is worth it. I-95 @ 5AM is awesome to drive on since there is NO traffic!

16 of us signed up for this workshop, and it is awesome to know that most, if not all of us, are coached by this one guy. AND! I think we are mostly Ironman distance focused. It is a good group I can tell, and hopefully NO egos, since were required to leave them in the car.

Session #1:
One arm drill, 8 x 25, alternating between left and right arms
Shark Drill, 3 x 50 (will explain below)
Fists, 3x 50, 25 fist, 25 swim normal (will explain below)
10 x 25
5 x 100 (50 shark, 50 swim)
9 x 50 ((2 50's with paddles, one 50 without) x 3)
150 video

Shark drill: Helps for rotation and following through with the catch. Stick a kickboard between your thighs like a pull buoy and swim. Work the rotation so that you can reach back and touch the top of the board to finish your pull, aka following through with it. GREAT DRILL!

Fists: Obvious drill. Make your hands into a fist and swim. I have always done this drill, but sucked at it. Why? NO ROTATION!!! Add proper rotation, and your core is doing most of the work to propel you forward. This drill is great because when you open your hands back up, they feel like the size of tennis rackets pulling you through the water.

I am glad that I put in some swim volume this fall. It really paid off for this workout since what I wrote above isn't that bad speed related, but those are the kind of drills that will hammer you when you have no swimming base.

Coach did some above water video of us and of the many things wrong, the most glaring thing to fix is that I am opening my kick up (scissor kicking) when breathing. I am compensating for balance to breath. I have overall good balance in the water since I am not sinking, but my balance goes to crap when I breath. A good challenge to fix!

Coach also asked me if I have a "competitive" swim background. Haha! Nope! But it was a nice compliment and I am trying really hard not to let this go to my head ;) I am neither the fastest nor the slowest out of the group, which is fine. Speed doesn't matter in this workout anyways, at least not yet. ;)


Now last night I started my 2nd workshop. This one lasts for 10 weeks. I would say that the workshop with my coach is for a much more advanced group, since most of his athletes are Ironman focused. This 2nd group with the local tri club is not as gung-ho, but is a really fun group. NO egos in this group and it is the kind of group which will work hard and have a ton of fun in the process.

The guy who leads the class is a really nice guy, but not a swim coach. That is ok though! The way he structures the workouts makes sense and the drills he had us do are right down to the fundamentals of swimming and are just what I need.

So last night the theme was GET LOOOOOOOOONG. Just look @ my AWESOME diagram for visual stimulation. What out Da Vinci!

This is what 4 years of art school gets ya! haha!

So if you look at the above masterpiece, which stick figure do you think is going to go faster? Well, that depends on the density of the wood of the sticks, right? (ok, lame joke)

But really, I had been swimming more like the stick man on the left, which creates a LOT of drag in the shoulder areas. These following drills had me swimming like the stick man on the right by the end of the night:

Thumb to thigh: Swim like normal, but brush your thumb along your thigh for a full pull, then bring your thumb along the side of your body on recovery. Teaches you to be more streamlined.
Catchup: Both hands touch before the pull.
Catchup with Board: Same as above, but use a kickboard
Catchup with pull buoy: Same as above, but use a pullbuoy.
One arm with board: Swim one armed at a time. DONT let your pulling arm tough the board. Let your arm extend past and under the board for proper rotation!

By the end of the night, I felt like a 50 foot sailboat: Loooooooong in the water with the MOST effortless glide I have ever felt.

Both classes have their strengths and weaknesses, but I have a feeling both with compensate for the other. I feel progress is ahead in my swim!

In fact, we had to do a 500 yard TT for a base time last night. I bested my previous time for a 7:30 flat @ 1:30 pace! Boo ya!!!


  1. ohhhhhhhhh that shark drill, I thought someone dropped a shark in the pool and your job was to out swim the shark or........

    I like my drill better

  2. You are just getting faster and faster Jon! It is so cool to see the hard work paying off for you. Also very cool that you have these workshops to keep you focused in the offseason.

    I hit masters class this morning for the first time in weeks and I was sucking wind. I figure by next week I'll be back in form, but dang did it hurt today -- You keep up the workshops and you will not have to experience this suckage when IMLP training begins!

  3. I can't wait to try the shark drill.

  4. I'm glad that you posted this. I got back in the water yesterday and think that for the next month or so, I really need to work on technique! I'm going to steal some of the things you learned!

    Great drawing by the way!

  5. It sounds like those are going to be awesome workshops! When I did a video analysis, the coach told me to read my arm and make it "long" like the stick figure on the right too. It makes a huge difference!

  6. I hate drills, but I know they work!

    I always feel funny doing drills at the pool though because I am really the only triathlete (or person who swims at all competitively) so I feel like everyone is thinking "What the hell is that guy doing with a kickboard between his legs?? That's now how you use it." haha

    Great job on the 500TT. I just did a 4:26 300 yesterday coaxed along by the fast swimmer next to me. She was doing 500 and had a 100 yard head start on me. My goal was to stay on her toes for all 300 and I made it! Don't know if I could have held on for a full 500 though :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this with us, those are interesting drills.

    I dont do drills personally, but maybe one day when I start getting bored. Get long, that works wonders for me. Feel the glide.
    I think I might have an advantage over most because I'm 6'4". It's one really long powerful stroke! I can glide forever :)
    I wish I could video tape it cuz it's quite sexxxy lol

  8. LOL I like BDD's drill. I have been doing a lot of drill work too, I think I am getting better. Great drawing, I think Pixar will be calling you soon! :)

  9. So only 11 (this makes 12) Ironman references in the Blog.......

  10. Im the first pic
    actually its probably worse than that

    nice job doing the workshop
    you are FAST


  11. This is awesome. Thanks for the info and something to add to my "arsenal" of drills. I am like you in that I tend to over-compensate on the breath so this will certainly help me.


  12. Man, you are killing it with the swimming! Thanks for the lengthening drills, I'll keep those in mind when I'm at the pool next.

  13. Holy lots of swimming. I wish I had the motivation to get wet more than I already am. good work!

  14. Hi Jon,
    I am so far behind on my blogging and commenting! Sorry:(

    Will you please e-mail me your address, I would like to send your our Christmas photo card:) What kind of bigger sister would I be if I didn't give my little bro a Christmas card?

    jkaiser4 at fairview.org

    Take care!


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