The great drill you are not doing

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Water Polo actionA rarely used but very effective drill is the water polo sprint drill. In this drill, which is also known as the Tarzan drill, the swimmer swims like she/he normally would but with her/his head completely out of the water. Check out the video here: to get a visual.

The benefits of doing the drill include:

  • Help with sighting during open water swimming. In really choppy or crowded water, you might need to swim a couple strokes like this rather than a quick glance.
  • Stronger shoulders and lats because of your body position
  • Preventing sinking legs: to keep your head above water, you cannot let your legs sink.
  • Better hand placement since you can actually see where you are putting your hands and thus can focus on wider hand placement.
  • Improved head and body position as you have to focus on keeping your eyes gazing forward, head still and body flat in the water without turning from side to side.

To get the most out of this drill you have to do it with proper form. It is typical to turn the head from side to side to breath, but by doing so, your legs will sway and splay from side to side (interestingly, this is exactly what happens when your head moves during swimming). Instead, keep your eyes fixed forward. You also cannot let your legs sink; if you do, your head will sink below the water and you will slow down significantly.

The best way to incorporate this drill is to do 8-10×25. To start, just focus on form but as you become more skilled turn this into an all out sprint. Doing this drill before a main set will prime your muscles for better form. You can also include it into the main set to fatigue the muscles and thus train your arms to swim while tired.

Give this drill a try and let us know how it goes.

Coach Chris and Kev