Last week I shared my intended summer foci—breaking bad habits and working on weaknesses. Today, without further ado, “the list.”
Turns: Extra credit to those following along who’ve already figured out that one reason I don’t like short course yards (SCY) is all of the #&*^% turns. The bane of my swimmer’s existence from day one, my turns are a perfect storm of bad habits and weaknesses. All phases of each turn type need work—maintain speed in/out of the wall, maintain a tighter and faster spin, improve head position throughout, and improve streamline position off the wall. Bad habits: Knowing what I need to do every single turn and not doing it. Weaknesses: Lack of flexibility and strength to hold tight spin and solid streamline positions. Fix: I’ll do some sets at a slower pace to work the turns, and add specific dryland exercises to boost flexibility and core condition. Tracking: Self-assessment (are my turns taking less out of me each wall?) and measurement (am I surfacing further?)
Breaststroke: Pure weakness. I’ve never been able to grasp the mechanics to muster even a “decent” stroke. And it frustrates me. I’ve had a lot of coaches make suggestions. I’ve tried endless drills. I’ve adjusted technique to keep up with evolving rules (i.e. you may submerge your head) I’ve watched video. Lately I’ve been thinking that my main problem is failure to find a style that works for my body type, and that I need a breaststroke whisperer to help me figure this out. Fix: I’ll book private lessons at SwimLabs, where I can receive coaching and walk away with reinforcement drills and videos. Tracking: Am I clocking faster repeat times?
Mental focus during the third quarter of a race: Bad habit and weakness. Review my splits from any race of any distance and you’ll see an uptick in pace the third quarter. Yes, it’s fair to say that as I’m usually tiring by that point, it’s a conditioning “weakness.” But as I always bring it home faster, it’s much more of a mental bad habit. Fix: Broken event-sets such as 4×50 fly, with a goal of keeping the third 50 the same pace or faster than the other three. Also, I’m reading up on mental training tips. Tracking: Practice and race splits.
Kicking: A life-long bad habit-weakness combo. Growing up as a distance swimmer, heavy-duty kick sets were never foisted on me. As an adult, the “it’s masters—do what you want” culture has allowed me to further evade kick sets. While I know I’m not built (weakness alert—lack of flexibility and tiny feet that aren’t going to grow) to be a super-star kicker, it is an important component of all four strokes, and thus an area I need to address. Fix: Suck it up—do kick sets sans fin—no matter how long they take me to complete, focus on the up-sweep phase of kicking per stroke, and get cracking with my breaststroke whisperer. Tracking: Can I lower my intervals?
Now that they’re out there, these four areas seem like a lot to work on. But their vastness and diversity also offer a lot of room for improvement and trial-and-error fun. Ultimately, I’ll be pleased if I see progress in any of the four areas because each is such a key element to swimming. And my weaknesses and bad habits are currently holding me back so much that even a little improvement will go a long way in my favor!
Next week: I’m Not Gluten-free.