Welcome to a new Kiefer swimming blog series! We are going to take a look at all four strokes plus starts and turns to help you improve your speed in the pool. We will start with Butterfly and work our way through the strokes of the IM line to give you some valuable swimming pointers.
For our ready to rock n roll athletes, let’s begin with quick returns. Yes, you can feel and be faster in the water today!
1. Accelerate! Setup is key. If you leisurely push off the pool wall and slowly kick up into your breakout, how much speed have you built up? NONE! Push off the wall aggressively and build your underwater dolphin kicks to your first stroke. Set yourself up for success by timing stroke number one so it is smooth and meets no water resistance. Don’t let your legs quit either! For Butterfly, there should always be two kicks per stroke. It is a common flaw to forget this on your breakout. Kick up into your first stroke and ride your momentum!
2. Learn to tempo train. Count your cycles and get some rhythm. As I mentioned, above in Butterfly there are two kicks per stroke (cycle). There is one kick on hand entry and one at the end of your “power phase”, when your hands finish their push through the water. Counting your cycles will help you determine your efficiency in the water, ie if you take 10 cycles over the course of 25 yards, you know you are traveling more than 2.5 yards per stroke (allowing for your underwater breakout). To improve your speed and your distance per cycle, start counting those kicks. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four; over and over. 2.0 tempo is two kicks and one cycle in two seconds. 1.5 tempo is two kicks and one stroke in one and a half seconds. 1.0 is two kicks and one cycle in one second. Over time you can train yourself down to a faster tempo.
Pro tip: Keep your chin low to the water when you breath to eliminate wasted time and unnecessary progression. Swim to the end of the pool, not up in the air.
3. Your cycle is a circle. Butterfly is not a square stroke. There are no pauses. No gliding. No rest. You will constantly be in motion. Eliminate corners. When your hands enter the water there is no reach or pause. Work on immediate catch. Hands hit the water, hands get to work. Flatten hands out front and make sure to get your face back in the water after your breath. A common mistaken for swimmers is allowing your head to remain up after the hands have already hit the water.
Pro tip: Head down before your hands after a breath.
Have any questions? Please let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below.
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