Archives for posts with tag: core

Well done for all of your efforts in the pool leading over the last few weeks.  I know many of you found some of the front crawl drills and different strokes challenging but I have seen some excellent improvements from many of you with the hard work you have put in.

Normally in January we start the build-up to the new season by starting some speed work.  This year, however, I plan to delay the start of the speed work until February to give us a bit more time to to focus on the technique improvements we’ve been working on over the Winter.  We will do a bit more work practising an early vertical forearm – since this is the one thing most of us could do more of to improve our speed and efficiency – but also do a bit of work on other aspects like head and body position.

We will stick with the usual pattern of doing time trials every 2 months – on the last Saturday of the month – and the next time trials will be at the end of January.  We won’t be doing any speed work before then so any improvement in your performance is most likely to come from technique. So please focus on your technique over the next few weeks by getting a good lever, with an early vertical forearm, to push yourself forward from a strong core rotation.

See you Saturday,



I will be away this week and Chrissie has very kindly offered to coach the second session while I am away.  We will be following a similar structure to the last couple of weeks with a pull set followed by a technique set and finishing with a mainly aerobic-based main set.

The technique set is moving beyond the sideline kick from the last two weeks into both Unco and Reverse Catch-up.  This means there is more to think about with both arms and legs moving at the same time.  The focus is the same, though, and I’d like you to think about high-elbow catch and pushing straight backwards (no cross-over under your body) as you use your strong core-driven rotation to finish each stroke.

The main set includes a little bit of kick and faster-paced swimming alongside the majority of steady-paced work.  Use the kick to focus on a strong core-driven kick from your buttocks.  For the faster-paced sections focus on getting a maximum speed for minimum effort (which you will get by keeping your high-elbow catch and strong core-driven rotation).

Have a good session and see you next week!


This week with will be continuing with the same theme of high-elbow and rotation from your core.  We will be doing similar drills – sideline kicking and Unco – as well as a mix of pull and swim sets.  So please focus your efforts in all of the sets on a good technique, as follows:

  • In the pull set take advantage of the slower arm speed and higher resistance of swimming with paddles to focus on levering yourself past a fixed point in the water using your core.
  • In technique subset focus on the basics of high-elbow catch and rotation.
  • In the main set focus on maintaining the benefits of your good technique on every repetition throughout the set as you being to tire.

We will also be doing a bit more kick in this session and all the sessions building up to Christmas.  Kick is good for working on your core fitness so focus on really kicking with straight legs from your glutes and core.

See you tomorrow!


It’s the end of the main triathlon season now for most of us (unless your name is Don and you are Kona bound) so it’s time to celebrate with a special swimming session.  The Juniors will be at Thetford so we have the pool for 3 hours meaning we can do our favourite long set of 100s.

We will be doing two 1.5 hour sessions from 7am till 8:30am and 8:30am till 10am.  We will be doing a long set of 100s in both sessions giving you the opportunity in each session to do 5km in lane 1, 4.5km in lane 2, 4km in lane 3 and 3.5km in lane 4.  Or why not double up for a really monster set of distance training!?

Three things I’d like you to do on Saturday, please:

  1. Bring a drink and appropriate nutrition for the length of set you are planning to tackle.
  2. Focus on efficiency in your stroke and good technique – especially maintaining a high elbow catch with core rotation to finish each stroke strongly – when you are starting to fatigue.
  3. Enjoy both the personal challenge and sharing it with everyone else in your lane, too.

See you Saturday,


220 Magazine tweeted this week with a link to one of their older articles by Darren Smith about the importance of using your core in swimming (with some good tips that are worth re-reading).  I’ve spoken about this before in a previous post Cutting to the Core and thought it would be a good time to focus on this again.

Using your core is only really effective if you have a good anchor with a high-elbow catch but once you have that high-elbow a strong rotation from your core can make a massive difference in the power you can generate for much less effort.  So this week we will be some more work to focus on the your core by doing some of the drills Chloe Sutton recommended so please do watch her video again here and especially the hip-connector drill, which we haven’t done before.

After the drills we will be doing the ratchet set.  This type of set is a great one to allow you to practise using your core in the first half of the set, swimming with maximal efficiency, so saving some energy for the tighter turnaround times at the end!

See you Saturday!


When I grew up no-one talked about using your core but now it is widely accepted to be a really important part of your strength and conditioning for many sports, and especially in triathlon.  I will be honest that I’ve struggled to find a good way of working on your core for front crawl but one of Chloe Sutton’s recent videos, shown below, is one of the best I have come across and I would strongly recommend watching it here:

I have been trying to improve engaging my core in my own swimming recently and I must admit that although it has felt like quite a subtle effect I do think it has made me more efficient and less reliant on arm and shoulder muscles for the power at the back-end of my stroke.  And I have been swimming pretty quickly recently, off very little swimming training, so although it is difficult to pin it exclusively on improvements in my core I am happy enough to recommend giving it a try and seeing if it could work for some of you, too.  So this week we will be doing three of the drills that Chloe talks about in her video:

  • Stabilized single-arm front crawl, which we have done before and is single-arm with the stationary arm on a kick-board
  • Unco, which Chloe calls One Arm with Rotation, and
  • Power Rotation with Kickboard, where you swim using a kick-board between your legs instead of a pull buoy

In all of these drills I think it is best to focus on engaging your core and using it to rotate your hips in the back half of your stroke once you have got into the high-elbow catch.  And as I always say with drills, the most important thing is taking the focus on your core from the drill set into the main set, which will this week see the return of the ratchet set.  The ratchet set always looks scary when you look at the final set of turnaround times but that is the whole idea.  It is a challenge.  And as part of a challenge I would expect many of you not to make the final set of turnaround time and so be swimming continuously.  Don’t panic – keep calm and relax in the first half, engage your core, and see how far you can get through the set before it turns into a continuous swim

See you Saturday!


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