Want to dial in your freestyle sprinting speed? This swim set will help you simulate the proper body position you want, power up your breakouts, and give you a solid workout.
I did this swim practice recently at the tail end of finals at the Canadian Swimming Trials, which meant that I had a lovely pool set-up, almost exclusively to myself.
There was a cursory warm-up of about 600m (I was pressed for time so had to cut straight to main set goodness), at which point I strapped on a swimmer’s snorkel and a set of my favorite swim fins.
Here’s the set:
42 x 100 Freestyle swim @1:30 with fins and snorkel
Focus points for this set:
- Tight, 4-beat kick all the way through. The over-riding goal of the set was to get as close as possible to skimming across the surface of the water, to get that feeling of “getting on plane” (I’ll touch on this in a future post). Fins help you do this without completely gassing your legs.
- Swim downhill with your chest up. One of my favorite cues for helping sprint freestylers dial in their stroke is to focus on swimming downhill. This helps swimmers to keep their face down, their spine-line in tact, and bring their hips to the surface of the water. A high body position in the water is imperative, especially for sprinters. Swimming with a snorkel will help you with this as well by keeping your face pointed at the bottom of the pool.
- The reps are key. Developing excellent technique comes with repetition. Swimming is an unnatural movement, and this is one of the reasons I’m an adamant believer in high yardage sets and workouts for sprint workouts (caveat: as long as they are being done with phenomenal technique).
- Race pace breakouts. Everybody loves training with swim fins. It’s no wonder why—it’s like switching boost mode on in the pool. Take advantage of them and power through your breakouts. For these reps I held to doing 5 fast underwater dolphin kicks off each wall. Pick a number and stick to them.
- Stroke integrity at all times. If my stroke started to falter I slowed down a little bit, or kicked more. This is key for sprinters. You are training a motor pattern that you want to transfer to race time—which means that you should be swimming on the brink of your technique falling apart, but no further.
Don’t forget to warm down, and have a larger-than-average meal at the ready post-swim, you’ll need it!
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The Other Auburn Sprint Set, Or How I Spent Two Hours Driving the Local Lap Swimmers Crazy. One of the most difficult sets I have ever encountered. Took me over two hours to do it, and I still didn’t even finish it all. Not for the faint of heart.
10 Minutes a Day to a Faster Underwater Dolphin Kick. The underwater dolphin kick is the not-so-secret of top swimmers like Florent Manaudou, Cesar Cielo, Michael Phelps and others. Here is a quick and powerful set to improve your fly kicks in as little as ten minutes a day.