There are a lot of old ideas out in the swimming world that more and more yardage will make you faster.
While to an extent that is true, there is a ceiling to that training strategy and the possibility of over-training injuries. Instead, the idea that coaches and athletes are moving towards is a technique based training regiment.
In swimming, technique is extremely important. It will allow the athlete to swim faster as well as more efficiently, which means less energy is needed later in the race. The 3 main areas athletes should be focusing on are the catch, pull/finish, and the glide.
The catch is at the top of the stroke where the athlete “catches” the water to start their pull. It is important that the athlete keeps a high elbow and starts the catch with an outward motion. This will allow them to hold on to the most water through the pull.
The pull/finish is where you are going to see all the power and motion in the stroke. The athlete, when swimming freestyle, will initiate the catch with a high elbow and an outward motion and then continue the stroke in the shape of key-hole. This will allow for the athlete to hold onto the most water as well as give them the ability rotate their hips so when they finish the pull they will be on their side for the glide.
The glide is probably the least practiced part of the stroke beside the finish. The thoughts out there of most athletes are to keep pulling as fast as possible. However, it more efficient to let your body glide for a bit on the leading arm. While the glide isn’t actually very long if you focus on the glide you will force your arm to finish all the way through the end of your stroke where all the power is.
Next time you head out for a swim, take some time to think of technique and start the workout with some drills and technique-focused yardage.