This is the second installment of my successful swimming series in which I giving you my tips to make swimming more natural. Last week, I talked about how the frequency and consistency of your swim sets is one of the most important parts of making swimming seem like second nature. Just as important though is making sure that you practice the proper technique during those sessions.
Swimming 4-6 times or more a week will not do you any good if you are not practicing the correct form—in fact it can hurt you. Doing the wrong thing multiple times each practice and each day will ingrain the wrong stroke into your muscle memory and make those bad habits harder to correct when actually realized. To prevent you from having to undo major problems and “wasting your time” in the pool, drills become essential.
One of the main reasons beginning swimmers do so many drills is to slow down their strokes so that you become aware of exactly what your body is doing with each stroke. Most drills like high elbow, belly button to the wall, and zipper exaggerate proper technique so that when you do swim you know the feeling of what your body is supposed to be doing. With drills, your muscles begin to learn the proper motion and overtime and lots of laps can repeat them subconsciously.
I make sure that I include a drill set at the beginning and end of each workout that I do. Even doing 6x50s (25 drill, 25 swim) helps my brain remember what I am supposed to be doing as I go into my main set. By drilling at the end as well as the beginning, I can refocus on form when I am tried, which is when my form typically goes to shambles.
Beginners and those coming back from a long break definitely need to spend more time on drills than advanced and seasoned veterans (unless of course, their form need correcting). However, even the fastest of swimmers need a refresher here and there.