Swimming in the colder months may not be the most enjoyable, but the winter is a very important time for making improvements to your swimming performance.
During race season it is often difficult to focus on improving your technique stroke while you’re also working on building endurance, which is why the off season is prefect to tackle your faults. Off season training allows you to decrease the intensity of your training and focus on technique.
For triathlon, the more efficient you are in the water, the less energy you’ll expend, leaving more energy for the bike and the run. It is a simple formula! The winter is the perfect time to work on adaptations to technique because they’ll be fully engrained when pre-season training begins and it’s time to focus on developing speed/endurance.
The 3 session drills listed below are staple winter drills that should be undertaken by swimmers of all levels:
Count your strokes: This drill will allow you to work on increasing the distance covered per stroke. This will improve your strength and stroke efficiency. Take as few strokes as possible from wall to wall and try to elongate each one. If you are at 30 strokes or above for 25 meters, try decreasing your stroke count by one or two each week. Decreased stroke count means increased efficiency, but be mindful of whether it is slowing you down. In theory a stroke count of 20 is far more efficient than a stroke count of 30.
Golf drill: An enjoyable drill focusing on stroke count and speed. Count the number of strokes you take over 50 meters and add that number to your 50-meter split time. Now, as in golf, try to decrease your score by either swimming faster or taking fewer strokes.
Breathing Rotation: Be warned this can be a difficult drill, but when persevered is really effective for emphasizing proper rotation and breathing technique. Place and hold the ball under your chin while looking at the pool floor. This will emphasise the correct head positioning, particularly in the breathing phase of the stroke. The correct position stops the legs dropping, which creates drag and a slower swim split. Also, swimmers who over rotate on breathing, slow down the stroke and increasing the risk of drag.