As a new Active Expert here on Active.com I though it would forward along this recent interview I did with Triathlete TV.
When I saw that this segment was 28+ minutes long I thought, what the heck did i say? But leave it to Mitch Thrower. He structured the interview with content that spans so much that has meant a lot to me
throughout my career as well as currently, that for as many times as I've thought about and even told the stories, to have it in this format to keep forever, is really special to me.
Sums a lot up: looking back on my career, my inspiration in the sport and in life, how my 2 year hiatus happened, the biz behind it all, and of course some endurance performance pointers.
I love GREAT questions! This time I'd like to highlight one I received on Twitter from MusikFan85, which was similar to one that also came up recently with a triathlete named Crystal, during my bike session with Breakaway Training here in San Diego. I have been swimming competitively for 26 years now and have been through a lot with my stroke. I too continue to learn how to swim more efficiently, but there are definitely a few foundational keys to being on the right track.
MusikFan85 wrote: "I want to go swimming tomorrow too. (Getting in shape for a triathlon this summer.) Any advice for a beginner in swimming?"
Crystal asked: "How can I work on my rotation in swimming?"
So, here are my thoughts, in a particular order, on great swimming, beginner or not:
2. TECHNIQUE: Get yours evaluated, corrected, and then never stop working on it.
Swimming, as you may know, is so much about your technique in the water that one of the first things I always suggest is to invest some time (and even a little $$ if necessary) in some personal instruction on swimming technique and specifically YOUR swimming technique. More often than not what you THINK and FEEL like your arms, legs and body are doing in the water are FAR from what they are actually doing. Having it pointed out to you and corrected by a trained eye can helpyou be safer in the water, swim more relaxed with less effort and very likely may take seconds, if not minutes off of your swims almost immediately. The best swimmers in the world still spend a good chunk of most if not all of their workouts doing swimming drills. I recommend starting and/or finishing every swimming session with at least a few laps, if not an entire set, of drills.
1. YOUR BODY: I'm listing this suggestion second for a reason, but it is actually rule #1 (FYI: its not a typo.) Do functional training. In other words train your body to be athletic so it can actually DO whatever sport you would like it to do...in this case, swimming efficiently. In other words get in the gym and work on your body's joint mobility, flexibility, strength and stability. Why? For example, a coach may cue you to rotate your body and initiate the stroke from your hips, but that is going to be darn near impossible if you don't even have the ability and rotational stability through your mid-section TO rotate your hips separate from your upper body with any level of strength and power. And you'll only really know whether you can or not, if you test it out on dry land first. So for example, in regards to the Breakaway Training Athlete's question, I recommended one of my favorite rotational stability exercises -- the 90/90 stretch -- as you can see in the video here. Safe, efficient, swimming technique will be best achieved when your body can actually perform the movements required by those specific swimming drills being given to you by a coach or instructor.
3. SPEED: Swim different speeds. Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen once told me that she trains in up to 7 different speeds. Now, I don't remember exactly what each of the 7 were, but suffice it to say: Mix it up! Beginners may only have 2 speeds to start. Easy and All Out (Hard). Which means, even if you get in the water and swim most of your time in your steady pace, take a half of a lap or a full lap and go as hard as you can a couple of times. You'll feel different in the water. Your body position will change. You may even like it better! Eventually, as you get more efficient, you'll be able to hold your 100% for longer AND you'll find you have a speed in between easy and hard, let's say, medium, that's something that feels like work, but you could hold that speed for a while. Avoid having just one-speed.