As the triathlon season is now finished for most of us we’ll be backing off from the higher intensity sets we’ve been doing for the last few months and replacing it with some steadier paced aerobic swimming, technique work, some different strokes and some time trials (in November).  I would really encourage everyone to take advantage of this unique stage in the season to think about their technique and making any necessary changes at this stage of the year.  The biggest challenge with older swimmers when making changes is often that it can be really hard to change bad habits that are ingrained.  So my advice is:

  1. Decide what you want to change.  You can ask me or any of our coaches for advice and decide what is right for you.  Or you can get lessons from other organisations or clubs such as City of Cambridge Masters or Ed’s Elite Swimming Academy.
  2. Practice, practice and practice whenever you can, in every possible session, to make the change you want. A change in bad habit will only come for most of us with lots of practice.  It takes discipline and perseverance to do this but I think everyone can do this if they really want to.
  3. Get regular feedback to see if your change is effective.  You can do this by asking the coaches to watch you, or your fellow swimmers, and really make sure you are making the right changes you want to.  You can also get feedback from more measurable indicators such as your times for certain distances or strokes per length.  But beware that you will often go backwards on speed while you are making a change to your stroke before you start improving as we tend to tense up when trying to bed in a change in our stroke so visual feedback from others is often invaluable to help you push through this.

I am planning to break the technique work for Saturday sessions into different things each month.  During October we will be focusing on body position and this week working body rotation.  To do this we will be doing some sideline kicking and the following video shows some examples of what we will be doing in the technique set this week:

The most important thing I would like you all to think about when doing these drills is keeping your elbow higher than your hand.  The easy, and wrong, thing to do when on your side is to let your elbow drop.  It is hard to keep your elbow higher than your hand when swimming on your side as you are over-exaggerating your normal body rotation.  That is why it is really good to practise this when you do this drill and will help you keep that high-elbow catch in your normal swimming, especially at the point when most people lose it during their rotation when they breath.  So please do focus on keeping that lead arm with the elbow above the hand and your palm facing down towards the bottom of the pool in the right position ready to catch and start the underwater stroke.  Watch the super slow-mo clip of Keri-Anne Payne swimming open water and notice how she manages to keep that lovely high-elbow underwater even when siting and breathing to the side:

See you Saturday,