Archives for the month of: December, 2015

Yes, it’s that time of year already for the fun and frolics of the CTC Saturday Christmas Swim.  This year’s theme is called “Clarklemas Heroes” as it’s a fusion of our favourite elements from previous Christmas Swims and the Will Clarke hard/easy 50s main set we’ve enjoying swimming before.  And we need some heroes to do the session, too!  We’re keeping with tradition and making it the longest distance session of the year but with the added seasonal spice of some faster paced 50s to add to the fun.  Also, both the 7am and 8am sessions will be the same so to fit it all in the timings for sessions on Saturday will be adjusted as follows:

  • The 7am session will start at 7am promptly at 7am and finish at 8:05am
  • The 8am session will start at 8:05am promptly and finish at 9:10am

To make it successful there are four things, like last year, that I would like you to do:

  1. Arrive promptly and don’t faff or add any extra rest into the set, otherwise it won’t fit in the time available.  If you are really struggling and can’t make every turnaround just miss out a 50 and join in on the next one.
  2. Pace yourself.  It is the longest session we have done this year, and everyone that comes regularly should be fit enough to complete it, but plan on swimming the second half faster than the first half so go out at a steady pace.
  3. Technique, technique, technique.  When you are finding it tough, or even when you are not, please do try and focus on swimming with good technique and doing as perfect a stroke as you can.  Try and stay relaxed when you think about your technique.  You should swim as efficiently as possible, keeping those elbows high at the catch, breathing out all the time underwater and maintaining a good body position.  It will require some mental effort to do this as well as physical effort.
  4. Smile and enjoy it!

See you Saturday,


This week we will be doing some more work on the legs in between a pull set and the main set.  The biggest thing I noticed from those finding the kick hard work last week was the amount of bending of the knees, especially noticeable when kicking on your back.  Then, when I pointed it out to a few of you, there were a few “I though my legs were straight” comments, which is a good example of why swimming technique can be so challenging to get right as it so often feels very different to how it looks.  So this week please do focus on kicking from your hips, with straight legs and pointed toes.

If you want some other tips on using your legs when swimming in triathlon please do read this recent article from Triathlon Magazine that Simon kindly highlighted to me.  I especially like the comment about doing regular stretches to increase your ankle flexibility, which if you’re really struggling with a good kick is something that is easy to improve when out of the pool.

See you Saturday!


Now it is December we will be doing some work on the leg kick to complete the work on body position and pull that we’ve been doing the last two months.  I’ve saved legs till last as they are less important for good swimming in triathlon than the pull and body position that we have been focusing most of our time on so far.  However, legs contribute about 10% to your overall propulsion, which is worth having, and having a poor leg kick will actually increase drag and mean you have to work much harder than necessary.  It is also really important for stroke tempo and reducing over-gliding.

We will be doing some kick this week as well as a usual longer aerobic main set on full stroke.  In these sets I’d like you to think about the following:

  • When kicking try and keep your legs straight, with toes pointed, and kick from the hips. Your knees will naturally flex a bit when you do this but you should resist letting this happen as it almost always results in excessive bending of the knee which just increases drag and slows you down.
  • A great way to check your legs is when kicking on your back without a float, but always remember:
    • Never, ever, kick on your back with your arms by your sides – always keep your arms above your head in a streamlined position
    • Keep your knees under the water at all time – the only part of your legs to break the surface should be your feet
  • When doing full stroke your legs set the tempo for your arms. Hence, a great way to avoid over-reaching on your pull is to focus on keeping a steady tempo with your legs which will make it impossible to pause on your arms stroke.  A pause in your arm stroke is almost always accompanied by a pause in your leg kick.

We will also be doing some sprints at the end of the session this week and this is another great opportunity to work on your legs.  Again, the legs set the tempo for your stroke so focusing on a really fast, hard leg kick will naturally increase your stroke rate without you feeling the need to rip your arms through the water and start slipping water.

See you Saturday!


%d bloggers like this: