Learning comes from paying attention, and the best way to capture attention is through novelty.
Another way to create novelty is to simply vary the propulsive surface area every repetition or every couple of repetitions.
For instance, if you’re doing 6x50, you can do the odd swims with paddles and the even swims with normal hands.
In this way, you’re switching what you’re feeling every swim. The goal is to make the hands swimming feel as strong as the paddles swimming.
This is a very simple version.
You can create a lot more variation and even use contrasting variations.
Like with using contrast, there a few different levels of practice to engage in.
Step 1. Pay attention.
Using the example above, what’s the difference between using paddles and not using paddles?
How does it feel different?
Where does it feel different?
Where is the pressure different?
Is it a consistent difference, or do the differences change over time?
The key here is to begin to pay attention and notice differences.
Step 2. Create change.
Just like when there is contrast, the next step is to try to reduce the differences in sensation when you lose surface area.
With the example above, when you take the paddles off, the goal is now to try to ensure that there is no loss in pressure with the smaller surface area.
You’re going to need to use what you’re feeling to inform how you’re moving- the essence of great feel for the water.
Step 3. Use metrics.
Now you’re going to keep track of how your speed and stroke count change when you change the surface area of your hands.
If you ADD surface area, these numbers should improve.
If you’re doing a set and you add paddles, the goal should be to swim faster and longer. In contrast, if you take your paddles off, the goal should be to MAINTAIN your speed and stroke counts, even though you have less surface area to work with.
This is how you learn to get more from less.
Variation works particularly well when you keep track of your metrics.
For instance, you can perform sets where you reduce your surface area every couple repetitions and try to maintain your efficiency and/or effectiveness.
You can only do this be learning to better manipulate the water. You’re learning to FEEL differently to SWIM differently.
This can be varying set-ups or varying contrasts.
You can use any combination of paddles, regular hands, hand configurations, or tennis balls.
The options are almost limitless.
Manipulate Your Hands
The hands are THE critical most area of the body for fast swimming.
They are the key point of interaction with the water, they sense the water more than any other part of the body, and they are most responsible for creating the propulsion required for fast swimming.
The hands are key.
Because the hands are so central to feeling the water and fast swimming, it only makes sense to manipulate how the hands work.
Doing so allows you to better to accomplish two critical tasks.
It allows you to learn to better tune into the feedback that the water is providing, and it allows you to explore different ways of creating propulsion.
Manipulating the hands allows you to do better do what the hands are designed to do.
As with most of the tools we’ll use, manipulating the hands is about exploration.
Play with different surface areas, vary those surface areas, and contrast those surface areas.
Over time, you’ll become much more attuned to what they water is telling you, and you’ll be able to use that information to create more speed with each and every stroke.
Faster. Easier. Better.