Ready to level up your racing and practices in the pool? Forget the big motivational lists, there are only a handful of things that you truly need to make an out-sized impact on your efforts in the chlorinated water.
Here are four things that you can do to immediately boost your swimming this year in the water:
Read up on the sport. Fortunately, with the world wide web being all wide and all, there is a metric heap of swimming-related content out there to help you swim faster. One of my favorite places to read about all the things high performance when it comes to competitive swimming is over at YourSwimBook. The author, Olivier Poirier-Leroy, writes about mental training for swimmers, nutrition and diet, features a long list of swimming workouts, and much. The swim articles that he posts are directly targeted at competitive swimmers, and it’s written from the point of view of a swimmer (he’s a former swimmer himself).
Balance technique and conditioning. It’s hard to balance the two. I can understand, as a lifelong swimmer I always found myself being tugged between wanting to spend more time on my technique, with lots of drills and emphasis on sculling and better body positioning, with wanting to do lots and lots of high-powered and exhausting training that tested the limits of my physical capabilities. The reality is that excellent swimmers have a way of focusing on both things. Although technique should always come first when trying to improve, it is also something you don’t stop focusing on once you hit a level that you deem proficient. With water being all resistance-based and all, the big challenge will always be finding ways to be slip through it with less drag.
Set goals for your training. When swimmers talk about their season and the year of swimming ahead of them, it’s usually in the context of what they want to achieve at the big championship season meet in the summer. Whether it’s breaking a record, qualifying for a particular team or squad, or just beating a personal best time, when swimmers set goals it’s typically only down to the results. An easy way you can get more out of your swimming, both in practice and more importantly when you step up on the block, is to set yourself mini and short-term goals. Doing so will help keep you focused on the here-and-now, keep you more engaged during your swim practices, and most happily, help power up those championship swims later in the season.
Track your workouts. One of the simplest things you can do to almost immediately improve your training is to start monitoring and tracking what you are doing in the pool. Sure, it might seem like extra effort—and for what? A bunch of sets and workouts on paper? But tracking your workouts in the pool give you an invaluable point of reference, showing you where you are at, what you are currently focused on (it’s not always what you think), and serves as a means to highlight what you can be doing better in the pool (ahem, hyper-improvement typically follows suite!). Now, the options for how and what to track can begin to feel overwhelming. There are a heap of waterproof fitness trackers for swimmers on the market now, but I’ve always found the simplest solution to be the best: a pad of paper and a pen. Actually having to write out your sessions (how old school!) will reinforce what you are doing, and give you a sense of self-awareness that is difficult to fake otherwise.