to Use Swimming Drills to Improve Your Swim
How to implement swim
drills into your current training
plan and workouts
Drills, drills, and then more drills! One arm drills,
kicking drills, body position drills.
There must be a hundred drills out there for
improving your swimming. Most
serve their purpose.
Mastering each of them can be difficult, though
that is usually not the difficult part.
The true challenge is applying what you have
gained from the drills to your full swimming stroke.
Out of those hundreds of drills, I like to implement just a
few different ones when designing workouts. These drills tend to focus on body position, the finish of the
stroke, the recovery, then entry and timing.
All the drills can be used without any training
equipment or with varying training aids such as fins and
Although this article won’t go into the specifics of each
drill (this will come in future articles), it does,
however, go into how you can implement the drills into
your current training plan and workouts.
To begin, let me state something that I am sure everyone
already knows. ― Drills are there to help improve
your technique. I
would like to change that statement to the following: “Drills
are used to increase efficiency”.
You may think this means the same thing,
where it in fact, it does not. Having good technique does not necessarily make you an
efficient swimmer. ― Of course good technique will
help you swim easier and you will look pretty good in
the water to your friends and training partners.
The difference is, that if you are efficient, you
will have a speed component added to the mix.
I am an advocate of performing drills a at slow speeds.
Though if you cannot also perform them at a
quicker pace, you are only teaching yourself to swim
truly learn a specific skill, whether it be finishing
your stroke, or recovering in a relaxed manner, or
getting on your side for better hydrodynamics, you will
need to have the ability to perform the drill at varying
There is no doubt that you will need to perform drills slow
at first to get a good grasp of exactly what the focus
points are and to get a good feel for what you are
trying to accomplish.
Once you have done this, try doing the drill
yourself four or five effort levels and go through all
of them. Walk
before you run…though learn to run!
Just about every pool you go to, you can find someone in
the pool that is doing some drills real slow….looking
good, not making a splash….then when they start to
swim, you see the same slow pace..
The problem with that is they only have one speed
because they have not taught themselves how to do the
movements at varying speeds, so the skill they learned
is “performing movements slow”….as opposed to
acquiring a new skill to create greater efficiency.
Skill Acquisition Model
The Skill Acquisition Model of periodizing your swimming
training plan incorporates drills and full-stroke
swimming to improve your efficiency.
When figuring out what points in your stroke need
to be improved upon, you need to map out a specific
training plan to account for your technical needs.
For your training plan, focus on one aspect of your stroke
per week. Maybe
even for two to three weeks.
It takes quite a bit of repetition to make a
change ― repetition at varying speeds!
If the new movement is not properly acquired,
then you will, in a year from now, find yourself trying
to make the change again.
A great scenario would be to complete an entire
year of training and have acquired 10-12 new and
Plan it out!
In the weekly plan, you should always have your first
workout of the week be the “setup” workout.
This is where you spend a lot of time on learning
the technique of the drill.
From there, you can implement that drill into
your warm-up for the following workouts, or even as part
of your main sets.
No Matter what drill you are performing, always follow it
with full-stroke swimming.
It is important to apply your gained knowledge of
the drill to your full stroke.
You can be as creative as you like;
a simple example of a set to gain a new skill
3 x [
4 x 50 Drill
10-15 seconds rest
[ 1 x
100 Swim 15-20
The speed component of a set like this could be implemented
into each set of 50’s. By
increasing the speed of each 50, then also increasing
the speed of each 100, you will be able to better
acquire the skill you are working on.
Another variation would be to increase speed
after every few strokes.
Just remember, that when going through the
varying speeds, you must maintain your stroke integrity.
Do nott be afraid to push it a bit….just stay
do you know?
There are quite a few good tests out there to measure your
efficiency; counting strokes is only a part of this. One of the simplest tests to use is what I call the 200
Overall Test. It
is straightforward and can provide you with some great
feedback as to where you are in regards to your
Swim 200 meters (or yards) at a solid pace.
You should be able to maintain your speed
throughout the full 200.
You will need to record three different pieces of
Stroke Length: Record
your stroke count for the entire 200. ― Get an
your Time. Be
exact and convert it to seconds.
your heart rate at the end of the 200.
Now add the three results together.
This total will be the benchmark for you
goal will be to get the total down.
― Here is an example:
from 3 minutes)
Beats per minute
Each of these components provides you with information
regarding the state of your swimming.
Ideally, it would be great if you could get all
three components lower every time.
But the reality is that getting one of them down
improves your total…as long as the others do not go
If I could summarize this article into a few pertinent
points, they would be:
Swimming efficiency is a factor of distance per stroke,
speed and effort.
Know what the drill you are performing is doing for your
Teach yourself to perform drills and full-stroke swimming
at varying speeds
Measure your improvement regularly.
Good luck….and become efficient.
Coach Chuck Meklensek
Cyber Swim Club