Welcome back to part four of our six part series on increasing speed. As we round out our strokes with this final edition please don’t forget to check back in for starts and turns to give you six different articles. If you are just joining us feel free to take a look back at butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke.
Alright let’s get to it!
Improve on your speed today when you hit the water. Immediately. This is our fast returns tip. Much like in backstroke your legs help define your arm speed. Tempo comes not only from your arms but from your legs as well. Set up is key. Never push off the wall with dead legs, use them and amp up your momentum into your first stroke. You will meet less resistance, feel faster, and actually be faster. Make the cognitive choice to be aware of what your legs are doing when they leave the wall. Bigger challenge you say? Continue your awareness through a lap, a set, or a practice. Make those legs strong by being aware of their work. Be conscious enough of your activity to make sure they are constantly moving. Extra tip: Have you ever paid attention to what happens to your kick when you breathe? Check it out.
Freestyle is a round stroke. So often when I swim at masters, or stop by club practices do I see someone swimming like a square. What does that mean? It means your hands stop moving somewhere in your stroke, giving it a corner, an edge, a pause. This is a momentum killer. And more common than you might think. If you find you are an offender (if you think you might be, you probably are) don’t worry. Being aware is the first step to correction. Using a snorkel can also help you focus on eliminating these corners. Start with 25’s of 50’s being hyper aware of continuous movement, it won’t be fixed overnight, but with diligence this will be a huge fix and will help you increase your speed drastically.
Old friend back again. In case you have forgotten our excessive talks on tempo, here we go again. You should always use tempo to train yourself to faster speeds. Two strokes on freestyle equals one cycle. Your cycle speed is what you are counting. Say your right hand enters first, that would be your one count, and then when your left hand enters that would be your two count. Elite level sprinters can complete one full cycle in less than a second. If you are new to tempo training start with 2.0 for play/experimenting. So one cycle (two strokes) in two seconds. Bring it down from there at your comfort level.
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