The title might sound like clickbait, but this tip actually works!
So, please read on if you want to get faster (and hold that speed) in your next swim practice….
People slow down over the course of an interval and practice for two major reasons:
- Endurance–people simply do not have the strength built up to hold proper form so their form breaks down and thus they slow down because of the extra drag.
- Focus–people lose focus throughout the interval so as their mind wanders, their form falls apart, and therefore they slow down.
To resolve issue number one, you simply need to swim more.
There are no shortcuts or hacks to build endurance.
You need to get into the pool and progressively build your ability to hold your form over longer and longer periods and in doing so build the muscular strength to do so as well. Just like running and biking, endurance comes with time dedicated to it: you stress your body, recover from that stress, adapt to it, and repeat.
Over time, you will get faster guaranteed (if you focus on building form and endurance–like we do in our programs–you will get even faster). In some regards, issue number 2–focus and maintaining focus–also takes time to develop and strengthen. The more you do it, the better you get at it.
However, unlike endurance, your focus is more in your control, which makes it an almost instant boost in speed.
Beginner swimmers especially tend to lose focus as they swim. The first 12 yards of a length might be strong but then their mind begins to wander and think about other things. At least for me, my thought progression might look like this:
“Alright, let’s get this set going! Strong form, high elbow, accelerate through the pull….1/2/3 breathe….1/2/3 breathe….flip turn..1/2/3
I wonder how fast I did that 25 in?….Was it faster than last time?…FOCUS, Chris, right, 1/2/3 breathe, high—….how many laps have I gone again?…Oh no, I think I forgot to lock my car….Oh crap, flip turn….After this workout, I am going to have an extra large breakfast…I am going to be so ready for that 70.3”.
Of course, as the set continues and my mind wanders more, my form begins to break down: my elbow drops, my breathing gets thrown off, my legs sink, and I lose my rhythm. With all of this, I slow down significantly. The solution to this? Maintain focus!
This is easier said than done. Anyone who has tried meditating knows how quickly the mind can wander. To help though, I like these tips:
- Reset your awareness every turn. After each flip turn, remind yourself to bring your attention back to your breath.
- Focus on one thing. Instead of trying to perfect everything in your stroke, pick one and bring your focus to this. Good ideas would be the breath, keeping your eyes down, high elbow, and accelerating the pull.
- Build up your mental endurance. Start small and maybe do 25 or 50m all the while with the goal of focusing on your form and rhythm.
- Make a note of when your mind begins to wander and be ready the next time. If you know that your mind begins to wander around the 100m mark, then as you approach the 100m mark, prepare yourself to extend your focus past that mark.
Focus, like swimming itself, takes time to develop and improve, but building up your focus is a worthy endeavor that will instantly make you faster.
Chris Hague, Tri Swim Coach