The ability to to swim faster, more efficiently and without feeling like death at the end of each lap is a common goal for all swimmers, especially beginners. Consistency is without a doubt a key component to becoming a better swimmer. The more you perform a skill or function, the better one becomes at it. All swimmers want to excel in something they spend hours doing but how? In the sport of swimming it comes down to efficiency of forward propulsion by reducing drag on ones body. There are several types of drag that are imposed upon a swimmers body but that is a topic for another post.
That being said, here are 3 of the most common areas that swimmers struggle with and the drills to help combat them.
Midline Crossover- This is by far the most common issue with swimmers in general, especially beginners and one of the biggest killers of speed in my opinion. It is one of the most crucial pieces of the swim stroke. So many parts of the swim stroke are affected by midline crossover, so fixing this one problem will improve several other aspects of the stroke. Crossing over ones body midline creates several issues including the potential for shoulder injury, hips to lower, poor head and body position as well as preventing the swimmer from initiating a proper hand entry and “catch” on the water. All of these create a substantial amount of drag on the body. Crossing over the mid line also increases the chances of the swimmer performing a scissor kick to compensate for hips. Midline crossover also affects a swimmers EVF(early vertical forearm) which is a main component of generating power.
This problem is amplified in open water and prevents one from swimming a straight line when visibility is less than ideal. In an Ironman swim this problem can cost a swimmer 4-12 minutes of time!
Catchup Drill: This is one of the most commonly used drills in helping new swimmers with midline crossover. Besides helping with midline crossover, this drill helps the swimmer with timing and tempo as well as lengthening the stroke. Begin by pushing off the wall and start swimming your normal stroke. If you begin with your left arm, leave your right arm out in front of your body fully extended. The right arm or lead arm in this case should not begin the catch and pull back on the water until the left arm (recovery arm) comes to the same position as the lead arm or in other words “catches up” to that lead arm. I like to have new swimmers use a snorkel and pull buoy the first few times so they can watch what they are doing without worrying about breathing or kicking. As this becomes more natural the pull buoy and snorkel should be taken away. Another aid is to have the swimmer hold a pencil or pipe in the lead hand. The swimmer holds onto the pipe or pencil and then switches hands when the opposite hand “catches up”. There are also special swim aids that can be used in place of these items.
90 Degree Kick: Use fins to help with the kick. Push off the wall and rotate your body over to 90 degrees. Your stomach and belly button will be facing the side wall. Kick at a steady pace and keep your lead arm out in front of you. I like to start with the right arm out in front. Rest your top arm(one closest to the surface) at your side and face downwards. Rotate the head out of the water to inhale and then rotate back downward. Eyes are looking down but slightly ahead. This helps the swimmer learn what it feels like to keep the lead arm out in front while holding body position, kicking and the breathing cycle. Alternate sides each lap. If this drill is difficult in the beginning use a snorkel until you feel comfortable and then try a few laps without it.
I also like to have a swimmer perform the drill and then swim a normal stroke to feel the difference immediately after the drill to create muscles memory correlation.
Fingertip Drag Drill: For this drill start off with a snorkel. This allows you to visually focus on the hand entry and catch without having to worry about the breathing component. Start by pushing off the wall and swimming normal freestyle. The only difference is focus on keeping your fingertips pointed downward towards the bottom of the pool the entire time. As your hand and arm comes out of the water and begins the recovery phase, drag only your fingertips along the surface of the water, aiming to just skim the surface. By doing so it makes it nearly impossible to cross over your midline but if you do you will instantly notice it because your forward momentum will stop and the body will sink in the water. This drill also promotes a high elbow recovery. Also one must fully relax the wrist on this drill for it to be effective. Remember to watch your hand entry during this drill. Notice if your fingertips get close to crossing over. This drill also helps promote a slight fingers down hand entry at the start of the stroke. Keeping the fingers lower than the wrist and the wrist lower than the elbow will help promote a proper and efficient entry, catch and pull in the water.
Visualization Drill: This drill we will use a clock and the pool lane line to help us prevent midline crossover. Start by swimming in the middle of the lane with the center of your body being directly over the black lane line of the pool. With your eyes watch as your hand enters the water in front of you. Focus on keeping your hands and arms outside of the black lane line. If you cross over the lane line then you know you are crossing your midline. Side note: Every wonder why the lane lines come to a T at the end? The T stands for turn and it is where the flip turn should take place for timing.
The last visualization drill is using a clock as reference. Imagine the 12 oclock position is the center of your body. Think about your hands entering the water at the 10 oclock and 2 oclock positions on the clock face. This will feel odd at first but with consistency will become more natural and in time you will start to see times increase.
Lastely, have someone film you doing the drills for reference. Film yourself every couple of months to see the progress. If you have a coach this can be extremely useful in helping them decide what drills are best needed and how to make corrections for the swimmer.
- Coach Ray
As coaches, we like to know the process. Our purpose is to bring an athlete from point A to point B, from start line to finish line. The beauty in that seemingly simple goal is that the process gets to look different for everyone.
I have athletes ask me all the time how they can get faster, or stronger. No matter who is asking, what their goals, are, or what context they’re asking, I respond the same.
Why do you want to get fit, why do you want to break 20 minutes in the 5k? Why did you sign up for an Ironman? When you can identify your why, the rest becomes much easier to execute because your purpose has become clearer.
You see, I can write you workouts all day long that center on pace, reps, watts, laps, etc., but you aren’t going to want to do them if you can’t turn back to your why.
Your why dictates your willingness to be up before the sun. Your why is what pushes you to go harder, do one more rep, swim one more lap, push the pace on that last mile.
In contrast, as athletes, we like to know why we’re swimming five days a week or what the purpose behind threshold bike intervals are. It is never a bad idea to ask why. Your coach has a process, there is a method to that madness. I have gained much insight as an athlete asking my coaches “why?” over the years. Now, as a coach, I love the investment behind my athletes asking me why.
So much weight is carried with such a simple and short phrase. Three letters that set the course of your goals, the purpose behind your path, the purpose behind your training, and fuels the passion behind your drive.
Know your why and strive for it daily! Keep putting in the work!
I found myself staring at my bike this morning for what would be my fourth ride of the week. Due to a laundry list of reasons, the majority of my time these days is spent on the bike trying to build and maintain as much fitness as possible for when I have more variety back in my training. Yesterday, my ride was rough, I was tired, and I barely got it done.
The problem is, today I had zero desire to spend another few hours on the trainer. I was frustrated with yesterday and I knew I needed a break. It’s also that awkward time where things need to start ramping up for the impending triathlon season, but with my current situation, I’m limited in my ability to do that. There are only so many hard rides a triathlete can handle in a week.
So, instead of suffering through another grueling trainer session, and in lieu of a rest day, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and do something that would not only strengthen me as an athlete, but relax and calm my mind.
I started my session with a dynamic warm up relying solely on bodyweight. I then preceded to partake in a pilates workout that wiped the floor with me. As endurance athletes we are very good at going in straight lines for long periods of time. We often neglect areas of weaknesses because, while they make us faster, they aren’t “essential” to our ability to complete swims, bikes, and/or runs throughout training. Additionally, for some athletes, time is such a motivator. My workout this morning was only a half our which is significantly less time than I typically spend training in a day, but it was a packed session that I was glad was only a half hour.
Not only did I get a killer full body strength workout in this morning, I enjoyed it. I got to take a break from the bike while still being productive as an athlete. There are times in every athlete’s training where they just need a break. It’s absolutely okay to shake things up because the last thing we want is burnout.
I can carry on with my day feeling like I’ve accomplished good work towards my goals while knowing that tomorrow I will likely feel much better about getting back on the bike.
In the continual search for passionate people who are willing to go above and beyond for their fellow man/woman, some people rise above in every category.
Coach Ray Delahoussaye exemplifies the traits that are found in great leaders. Dynamic communication skills, patience and a deep understanding of their craft.
He is always quick to step up and answer the call of the Mind Right tribe. From the incredible video work, to hosting data analysis parties at his own home to help athletes understand the why and how of what they are doing.
These are just a few of the reason Coach Ray is a cornerstone in the Mind Right tribe and our NEW Director of Athlete Relations!
On a more personal note, a big thank you to Coach Ray for his years of trust and support in me, my vision and the need to ask him the same thing 4 times because I forgot. Love you bro!
Date: Jan 1-31
Purpose: To get you in the pool more, duh
Entry: $10 per person
This will be a tiered based contest where you will be matched up against people who had a similar swim volume for the 2018 year. I (Coach Jeremy) will make sure it is an evenly matched contest.
Totals will be populated from your training peaks (I will do some verification of workouts if I feel something is off) on Mondays
3 tiers available for the participants. The top 4 from each tier will have a bracket based elimination contest in the first 2 weeks of February. Winner advances. Plain and simple. The end of the 2nd week of Feb, we will have our winners.
Randomly drawn for the 3 tier champions.
Roka Wetsuit, Roka Swim Skin, Roka Goggles
Winner of each tier takes the prize money from the tier
The purpose of this is to motivate, inspire and drive you to get out there and get in the work that is crucial for your success this year in a competitive atmosphere. It is meant for you to have fun and test your limits. Don't take it, or yourself to seriously, I won't be ;)
You MUST email me BEFORE Jan 1 to get your name in on the challenge. The coaches are aware of it and in support of your efforts!
Let the games begin!
Joshua DavisMon, Dec 3, 9:06 PM (8 hours ago)
Race week. So this is when I start freaking out that I'm not prepared, I don't know if I can hit my goals, I feel like I can't do this; and you reassure me that I've put in the work, followed the plan, hay's in the barn, all that jazz--right? ... Right?
In all seriousness, I have no idea if I'm going to be able to finish this thing, at least in any way that resembles a "run" (or even a walk). But that is kind of exciting. I can't remember the last time that I took something on, especially in a public way, where I wasn't guaranteed at least some safety net of success.
I have followed the plan though. Maybe moving a workout here and there, but I haven't skipped or skimped since I started this. And that in itself is a victory for me right now. I am in probably the busiest, most stressful, and most intense stretch of work that I've had over the last several years, and I have still made time to workout and to recover as prescribed. So I can take that away for sure.
I suppose I owe you a substantive update as well. I was having some tightness and soreness on longer runs, so we focused on some yoga and stretching this week--that seems to have really helped. The legs felt a little heavy early in the week, but I think I am getting used to the strength training again. I miss my bike--haven't had time for any "extra" workouts lately--so that's probably what I am looking forward to the most after this week.
Anyway, thanks for following along. Please send prayers for rest and recovery this week, and for perseverance this weekend.
Well the week is finally here. What was a crazy, semi dangerous yet calculated idea that formed in a coffee shop, is now upon us. This has been a tough test for me as a coach.
The balance was one that could not be taken lightly as someone's health could be at risk, thus causing much larger implications. The calculated part was knowing that this athlete has a strong running background and while not "training" a lot this year, was physically active. This is a smart athlete that understand the importance of recovery and rest (as much as an attorney can).
This week was about keeping the body moving and functioning without adding much stress overall. At this point, it will be what it will be and trying to squeak out little gains will only cause potential issues.
I am proud of Josh for taking a risk, putting in the work and rising to the challenge. God's speed my friend, this weekend you get to do some epic shit!
But it’s too cold and/or wet to ride outside, Jordan, what do I do now?
It’s time to bust out the trainer and/or rollers. I, for one, spend the majority of the winter riding indoors. I have no issues riding in the cold, but I save the cold and wet for race days, and for when cabin fever has gotten the best of me.
My set up includes the following:
Mat: they make trainer/roller specific mats you can purchase. A towel will suffice in a pinch, but the mats have a non slip finish that will keep you firmly in place.
Towel: I keep at least one towel on hand to wipe off excess sweat. I also keep a small hand towel over my stem to keep sweat fro getting into my headset. (I also give my bike a good wipe down post ride as well, paying particular attention to the bottom bracket area)
Fan: These are crucial! As you are riding indoors during the winter, you probably have your thermostat dialed up a bit. You are also static, so don’t get to feel the thrill of the wind in your face and the cooling affects that it provides. This is where the fan is worth it’s weight in gold.
Water bottles: This should be fairly self explanatory, but be sure you have the means to keep yourself hydrated for the duration of your session.
Entertainment: Whether it’s your phone, computer, tablet, iPod, TV, a good book, etc. Have something available to keep yourself entertained and motivated for the duration of your indoor session.
Lastly, I will give you my take on how to endure the mental anguish of suffering through hours of suffering on the turbo. The majority of my trainer sessions are broken down into either drills or some sort of intervals, typically in the 90-120min range. While this may seem like a long time overall, it actually isn’t.
Here is how. Break down your total trainer session time into smaller blocks. 20min warm up, 5min hard, 5min easy, 10min hard, 5min easy, 15min hard, 20min cool down. This would be a good example of a 90min session. So now you only have to be focused on each individual time segment, rather than the full duration.
Hopefully with the help of your entertainment source, you can drive on through the session. Another thing to consider is the benefit of roller/turbo sessions.
Unlike riding outdoors where you have times where you are free wheeling, you won’t be doing any of that while riding the turbo/rollers. So an hour ride indoors roughly equates to 2hrs on the road. Smaller sessions, bigger pay off!
I hate riding indoors as much as the next guy, but it’s a necessary evil to reach your fitness goals.
I constantly tell myself that “Right now, there is someone else out there working harder than I am”. Know yourself, know what you need to keep yourself motivated, and do the work. At the end of the day, it really can be that simple. Now fire up some Game of Thrones, and get pedaling!!!
Joshua DavisSun, Nov 18, 6:32 PM (7 days ago)
This was an interesting week. Had a quick trip to DC early in the week, and have a ton of deadlines this coming Monday—so had to be flexible in order to get everything in. A little rearranging and doubling up here and there though, and I was able to make it work.
That being said, my legs felt like they were really coming around this week. Felt like I had a little pop early in the week, and base runs were coming at a decent pace and were fun with minimal effort. Then I had my tempo run on Friday.
I quickly realized three things: (1) I hate running at night (a constant work onslaught from before I woke up until later in the evening meant I didn’t get to enjoy the beautiful weather that was taunting me all day); (2) I have no speed, none—it doesn’t really matter for the purposes of the coming run, but I was amazed at the difference 45 seconds or so made in my pace in terms of how quickly I tired out... that will matter for the 50 miler; and (3) if I don’t eat right during the day, I have maybe 30 minutes before things start going south.
Ironically enough, a long, cold, wet run on Sunday helped get me right again. Just reinforces that with where I am right now, I need to stay in my lane. But when I do, it feels like I could run forever.
This week was a bit of a calculated risk but one that I know the athlete can handle for a week or two without major issues. We increased running from 3 times to 4 times while increasing the long run from 7 to 10. We maintained 2 aerobic days and 1 tempo while adding the longer run.
Strength training this week included some core work along with functional strengthening.
Overall Josh is progressing well and has noted feeing "really good" on his runs. The consistency coming back has him in a "runner's groove" that we will ride out to the race.
By the numbers:
Cycling - 1:08
Running - 3:42
Strength - 1:50
Other (yoga, breath work, etc) - 1:07
Total - 7:47
- Coach Jeremy
Week 2 to 50 is complete.
So this week was definitively getting into more of the meat of training. Had to run a bit on tired legs, and had some curve balls thrown at me by work.
My legs still feel good, but I'd say it took 2 full days to bounce back after the first strength training session (hadn't done any strength training in probably 2.5 months). Other than that, just trying to stick with the nutrition and stretching that I talked about last week. Early in the week, I had a couple of runs after strength training, and then I hopped on a plane. The trip was very last minute, and I didn't take the time to stretch out properly after my last run--could definitely tell the difference by the time I got to New York. My legs were stiff, my lower back was sore, and overall I just felt like crap. Got myself right relatively quickly, but just a reminder to stay on course.
So about that trip to New York.... Right around lunchtime on Tuesday, Sara and I were sitting down at a dealership to pick up her new car when I got a call that the court on one of my cases had decided to have an emergency hearing in NYC the next morning. So instead of getting Sara's car, I immediately started looking for flights and trying to figure out how I would get to NYC and rearrange my schedule to accommodate the hearing. Training wasn't my #1 priority at the time, but I at least grabbed my running shoes and some workout clothes as I threw together an overnight bag.
Ultimately, the court put off the hearing until Thursday, which was great because it allowed some time to actually prepare. But as far as everything else for the week, it just made scheduling that much more of a pain (since things kept moving). As far as training, I had to double-up some training over the weekend to fit everything in, but it wasn't too bad. And those workouts over the weekend were actually great confidence builders.
The best thing about the court moving the hearing to Thursday though: I got to watch the Duke/UK basketball game Tuesday night with everyone's favorite UK fan. Out of respect for the dead, I'll just leave it at that. (And this: http://www.goduke.com/mediaPortal/player.dbml?clip=5901630&db_oem_id=4200)
Duke still sucks....
Total hours: 7:43
Bike: 2:29 (46 miles)
Run: 16.1 miles
Other (Yoga, Breathing, Etc): 0:59
The runs this week were focused on continuing to establish the consistency of running (time on foot) and to add in one tempo run for Josh to open it up a little.
This week was a 3 CTL ramp (well within the "safe" zone). The goal for the week was to gain a little more consistency of movement while not increasing the running load by much.
With 3 weeks remaining, we will bump the running a bit more and drastically increase the non running work to provide the needed strength for the connective tissue that will be required for the 50 miler. We do not have time to safely ramp the running so we are going to test alternative theories for providing the support the muscles and tendons will need.
- Coach Jeremy
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