Archives for posts with tag: backstroke

Well done to everyone who did the time trials last week and all of your fantastic efforts.  In December we are going to do a bit of variety and do a few different strokes.  The great thing about all of the other strokes is that when swum well they all have the same principle of a high elbow pull  – just like the early-vertical-forearm we have been practising on front crawl.

This week it we will be doing backstroke and a great example of it being swum well, with a high-elbow pull, is shown by Chloe Sutton below:

We will be doing some of the single-arm backstroke as a drill this week.

See you Saturday!


What is your swimming goal this Winter?  I am keen to learn whether or not you have one and if so what it is.  It could be just to keep swimming  fit and have fun.  It could be to maintain your times as you focus on goals to improve your bike or run.  One of you I know has a goal of getting their 400m time trial time down to 6 minutes.  What is yours?

If you have one, and are happy to share it, then I would be really keen to hear what it is as this helps me plan sessions around what most people are trying to achieve.  You can let me know by posting a comment on this blog, sending me an email or speaking to me on Saturday.

This week we will be doing some backstroke technique alongside the usual aerobic front crawl.  You can read my previous post here on this for a reminder!

See you Saturday,


Now the main triathlon season has finished for most of us we will be moving into Winter training.  This period of Winter training before Christmas is my favourite as it’s the perfect time of year to have a bit more variety in our swimming sets and try and few different things.  The objective is still the same – to try and improve our triathlon swim – but we are far enough away from competitive racing to spend a bit more time trying to improve all round swimming ability rather than focusing on race pace fitness.  Hence, on Saturday mornings we will be doing

  • some more different strokes, as we did at this time last year,
  • more technique work than we have done in the summer alongside our usual aerobic-paced swims, and
  • some other general swimming skills sets with the aim of making you more comfortable in the water and better all-round swimmers

This week we will be doing some technique work focusing on shoulder rotation as well as some individual medley swims (butterfly, backstroke, breast stroke and front crawl) alongside the steady-paced aerobic front crawl sets.  I know many of you find some of the other strokes hard work so my general advice when approaching these is to try and relax, don’t fight the water and try and make them feel as comfortable and efficient as you do when you’re swimming a steady front crawl swim.  If you want advice on specific strokes there are a few articles I wrote last year – so use the search box to read some of my thoughts for the stroke you to know more about – or ask me in the session on Saturday.

See you Saturday!


This week we will continue to do more swimming aerobic-paced swimming with the vast majority being front crawl but this week, rather than swimming Medleys for different strokes, we will do backstroke.  As many of you haven’t done much backstroke before I thought it would be worth me writing a bit about why I think it is useful to improve your backstroke and how to swim it better.

But before we get onto backstroke please do think about your pacing when you swim at an aerobic pace.  It should feel as relaxed as possible and at a pace you can sustain, with 5-10s or less rest if necessary, for the whole set.  If it doesn’t feel like that then you are probably pushing it too hard and should slow down a bit, even if it means going behind who you usually would swim with.  Even a few seconds slower per 100m can make a lot of difference and give you time to really think about maintaining a good technique to keep your pace rather than just making it a hard workout.  There will be plenty of hard workouts before next season!

Backstroke is the most similar stroke to front crawl in terms of body position and shoulder rotation – you just happen to swim it on your back rather than your front.  The most important thing to focus on, for most people, is getting into, and maintaining, a good body position and this starts with the head.  Your head should be rock-solid and still all the time – looking straight up at the ceiling.

If you lift your head your hips will sink, like on front crawl.  If you nod or swivel your head you will often bounce up and down or start snaking.  So to swim better backstroke really focus on keeping your head really still and let your shoulders rotate about this fixed head position as your arms recover in a nice straight line before entering the water little finger first.  Underwater you should bend your arms for a strong pull but, just like on front crawl, try and make sure your hand leads the pull underwater rather than leading with your elbows and slipping water.  Watch the video of Ryan Lochte for a great example of what a good back stroke looks like and really notice both how still his head is and his hand leading the underwater part of the pull:

See you all Saturday!


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