So you are entering the world of competitive swimming, and you are wondering what you should work on first. Here is the top 5 breakdown on how I became a successful swimmer.
Always make sure you keep swimming fun!! (most important)
1. How to keep swimming fun?
The key is to find the right swim club to match your personality. Growing up on Maui, our coach focused on half of the workout as "fun" sets. So we would do things like pulling a tire across the pool. Or play sharks and minnows. I've built up a lot of lifetime relationships because of swimming. The key here is to find what fits for you and make sure you enjoy it. If you enjoy going to practice and pushing your limits, you'll always have the motivation to push through those "hard" days.
It's best to take the most time here and develop a "perfect" technique. Always start slow and build speed. It's helpful to have another person film you so you can see how you look and make the changes.
Head position - Head should be looking at a 45 degree. Having a head position at 45 degrees allows you to see just far enough forward without dropping your hips.
Body Alignment - Head, Shoulders, Hips, and Feet should be at the surface or near the surface. The water density at the top of the water is much less than at the bottom (aka less drag).
Catch - A good catch is where you setup up the stroke. The catch will make or break the efficiency of each stroke. I tend to slow down my catch to make sure I'm pulling water, not air. In practice, its good to pause your stroke to see if you are pulling air bubbles (you should have no air bubbles) and to see if your wrist is below your elbow (90-degree catch).
Timing - Perhaps the hardest thing to learn. Proper timing will dramatically decrease the effort it takes to move across the water. Again watching yourself and getting feedback from your coaches are the steps you should take to work on timing.
Pro tip: The most effective way to correct technique is to be able to film above water (side), above water (front), below water (side), below water (front, and below water (back).
Often overlooked, flexibility is vital to drive your power. Stretching, foam rolling, massage, percussion massage are the best ways to ensure your body is at tip-top shape. Flexibility also plays a significant role in injury prevention. Check out our Top list for the tools I use to keep loose.
Yes, cracking out 100s of laps will increase your endurance. But the key is to be able to maintain race pace for a more extended period. Here is great to throw in some lactate sets, running, and breathing exercises.
Finally, the last thing you should add is strength. There is no benefit for strength if you don't have any of the mentioned topics above. The ability to move water with more power will only equal more speed. It's essential to not only work the major muscles but also to work on the supporting muscles.
Wooo, we made it. You now have a great starting place to start your Competitive Swimming adventure!