To get better, you have to act. For you, that means you’ll need to find technical clarity, and you’ll need to change your perspective on training. In previous sections, I described reality for most triathletes, I described the mistakes most triathletes make as a result of these realities, and I described the solutions to these realities.
While I trust it was all insightful information, and has inspired you to change, it’s all theory unless you put it into practice. It’s time to get practical. Below, I’ll show you exactly how to do that. If you’re taking action on the concrete steps I lay out, you’ll be swimming faster sooner than you expect.
Change Your Perspective on Training
Hopefully, you’re beginning to reconsider spending most of your time in the water with the intent to develop fitness. If you’re reading this, at least some part of your brain knows that what you’re doing now isn’t working quite as well as you’d hoped. The solution is simple- shift your perspective on training. Rather than training to develop your fitness, start training to develop your skills.
1. View every time you enter the water as an opportunity to improve your skill. By shifting your perspective about what you’re aiming to accomplish every time you get into the water, you’ll instantly shift the outcomes you achieve. Simply by shifting your focus, you’ll start paying more attention to how you’re swimming, and that focus will improve your skills even if NOTHING else changes. When combined with a focus on the skills that matter and the exercises that work, your progress will accelerate.
2. Structure your time in the water to maximize learning. If you’re getting into the water to enhance your skills, you should do everything you can to help yourself learn as best as possible. Fortunately, there are some easy strategies that you can use make the best use of your time. Here’s how you can best structure your time in the water to maximize learning.
Get in lots of repetitions. The more quality repetitions you perform, the faster you will learn. The faster you learn the more you will improve. Simple. This also has pleasant side effect of improving fitness as you’ll be swimming more.
Keep fatigue relatively low. Fatigue is the enemy of learning, particularly at the early stages of working on a skill. You’ll want to make sure you’re using distances that allow you to maintain your skills throughout each repetition, as well as take enough rest between repetitions to maintain your skills for each repetition.
Mix it up. Rather than performing the same exercise over and over again, rotate through the exercises you use on a consistent basis. While switching exercises will make it a little bit more difficult to perform them well in the short-term, it will accelerate your learning in the long-term.
Alternate between technical exercises and free swimming. The ultimate goal is to improve your freestyle. While working on technical exercises is certainly a big part of that process, it’s not the end goal. You have to swim freestyle as well. A great strategy to help the transition between what you learn during the exercise and how you swim freestyle is to pair the two. Perform several repetitions of the exercise, then swim regular freestyle emphasizing the same points you worked on during the exercise.
The faster you LEARN, the faster you improve your swimming, and the faster you will swim. Set yourself up for success!
3. Let fitness development be a byproduct of your skill development. If you consistently practicing your skills, and accumulating more practice, you’re building fitness by increasing your training volume. If you’re consistently working on your skills at faster speeds, you’re building fitness by increasing your intensity. Fitness development will happen if you are working on your skills consistently and diligently. Further, better technique makes swimming easier, so the same fitness level will get you a lot further. As an added benefit, this training will likely be less physically demanding, leaving your more recovered to dominate the real fitness work on land.
Get To It
If you want to improve, you need to act. You need to change. I’ve laid out two clear strategies that you can implement to radically improve your swimming.
There are no tricks.
You just have to do it.
Simplify your approach to technical change, and start practicing.
FASTER. EASIER. BETTER.