Archives for posts with tag: fists

Did you see Vicky Holland’s emphatic win in Montreal last week?  If not, it’s well worth a watch on replay to see how well Vicky Holland and all the other British women performed getting 2 out of the 3 podium slots.

Their performances are the motivation for our session this week.  We will be doing some of Vicky Holland’s favourite swim drills to start the session – doggy-paddle and fists – before going into the Brownlee set of progressively-paced 100s.  There is a good article with pictures about the drills on the 220 website here.

I would like you to swim of the drills breathing bilaterally which means on the doggy-paddle you will be breathing to the side. You should find this slightly easier than head-up doggy-paddle and it will also allow you a little more rotation.  As you rotate please concentrate and keeping that vertical forearm as a paddle pushing straight backwards through the pull and don’t let it drift across under your body.

See you Saturday!


I will be around for part of the first session this week and away next week.

It is the Great East Swim this week for many of you so it may well be a bit quieter in the pool.  I will coach the first half of the 7am session before I have to leave and we will be continuing the theme of last week with some more work on stroke rate with some fist drills before going into a ratchet main set.  The fist drill this week is a mix of tight fists and half fists.  Tightly clenched fists are good to help you focus on really good vertical forearms and will naturally increase your stroke rate.  For half fists only loosely clench your fists to get a bit more surface area for your pull and a bit more power.

Next week the session will be the Will Clarke set consisting of a mix and fast and steady-paced 50s.  To get the most from this set really focus on the fast 50s, even when the turnaround times are tight at the start of the set.  The sessions will be in the box at the pool so whoever is there first please get them out and distribute to the different lanes.

See you Saturday (briefly)!


Well done for all of your efforts on your feet over the last two weeks with the work we have been doing on your leg kick.  This week we will be doing some work on a drill we haven’t used for quite a while – front crawl with fists.  This is an excellent drill – recommended by Vicky Holland as one of her favourite drills – to help you focus on the high-elbow catch by using your forearms rather than your hands to generate the most power on your pull. Also we be doing some golf stroke 50s to help you experiment with your stroke efficiency by varying your stroke rate and distance per stroke.  The fists drill is a great preparation for your work on this.


We will finish the session this week with some pursuit 200s where I would like to encourage all of you to experiment with different tactics and changes of pace.  Using the stronger leg kick you have recently been practising is a great way to change pace quickly!

See you Saturday,


Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

Now it’s February we will start increasing the pace so will have some progressive-paced swims alongside the usual steady-paced aerobic work.  We will also be doing some more work on the catch and pulling with the forearm.

As we pick up the pace it is important to try and stay as relaxed as possible and hold your technique together when you swim faster.  There are a number of things you can do to help with this.  You can actively think about your stroke and trying to keep it relaxed as you put more effort in – using things like stroke count to objectively monitor how efficient you are able to keep your stroke as you pick up the pace.  You can also use some passive tricks – of thinking about saving yourself for the next swim rep – so you stay relaxed and fast on the swim before.  For example, many of us find that when we have a hard interval coming up, such as a 50 Fly, we subconsciously relax beforehand and still find we are swimming quickly.  Some of the progressively paced sets we will be doing, where you need to get faster each time but may not have that much rest, are good for this so feel free to try this approach this week and see if it works for you.

The short technique set we will do this week will be head-up front crawl and some front crawl with fists.  The work with fists is the same as last week and gives you chance to think about really using your forearms to pull.  Try and keep your stroke count as low as possible when doing this to get the most from it.  Head-up front crawl is a great drill to help you focus on a strong catch as well as increasing your stroke rate.  It is also hard work, too, as your high head position pushes your hips down so you need to kick hard to keep your head above water.  For a video on this I think the following is good:

See you Saturday!


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