Here are 5 common mistakes I see people make in their swim practice.
1. Mindless swimming: Swimming endless lengths with no purpose and their brain somewhere else. Swimming is a super technical movement skill so if you don’t think about what you’re doing while you’re it, your swimming will never get any better.
2. Focus on Speed: It’s nice to know how fast you’re swimming and to see some of your times getting better. But spending your swim sessions only focussed on the time of each 100m repeat and chasing times will often make you slower. This is because you’ll just be focusing on the effort rather than thinking about the quality of the movement. When you only focus on effort it’s easy to end up churning water around rather than moving through it. So, see how fast you’re swimming but don’t forget to apply some thought to how you’re moving at the same time. One of my favourite sets is to swim 5 x 100 with focal points and see what the splits are. 5 x 100 counting strokes per length and see what the splits are. 5 x 100 trying to match the average speed of the previous 10 reps.
3. Swimming hard: It’s nice to feel like we’ve had a good workout and sometimes I totally relish that feeling of hanging off the end of the wall to get your breath back. But only working hard in all your sessions will lead to bad habits in your stroke. Don’t forget to swim at a range of speeds – including super slowly as well as all out at a sprint. Swimming slowly often highlights lots of balance and streamlining errors in your stroke but if you can’t do a movement slowly you sure as hell won’t be able to do it fast. Learning how to have good technique at all effort levels will give you superb awareness and control in your stroke.
4. Open Water: It’s wonderful to swim outdoors away from the chlorine but ditching all your pool time will often lead to bad habits creeping in. If you swim in a wetsuit this changes your body position in the water as well as how your feel and experience the water so it’s easy for your stroke to deteriorate. Also, outdoors it’s much harder to specifically measure distance, pace and strokes per length so it can be hard to know how your efficiency is holding up. It’s good to keep getting in the pool at least once a week during the outdoor swimming season just to keep your stroke together.
5. Lack of objectives: If you go to the pool with no plan or intention then it’s not likely to be an effective use of your time. You may end up swimming mindlessly up and down and get out not having achieved an awful lot. If you go to the pool with an objective, then this will really help to shape what you do in the pool and help your swimming to improve. Objectives could be to improve your arm recovery, practice swimming faster with lower stroke counts, build endurance, have fun, or to use time to swim mindfully and de stress from a day at work. If you want to get better at swimming, then make sure you go to the pool with a purpose and aim to get out the pool having learned something after every swim.