Flanagan's Swim Tips
I’ve been coaching the drop-in swim training program for the City of Edmonton for more than eight years. The drop-in program works like a yoga or aerobics class only with swimming you get to work out like a swim team does. This is a great opportunity for athletes in the Edmonton area to increase their efficiency and better their overall swim.
With the annual ITU World Triathlon Series stop in Edmonton, the City has shown great commitment in having such a program and it’s a privilege to work here. I’ve coached beginner swimmers help them achieve their goals, watched and tracked their progress year to year, and shared in the victory of their accomplishments. In the eight years coaching the program I’ve worked with hundreds of swimmers, each of them impacting me greatly. Their dedication motivates me to help them be the best they can be. Waking up to be on the pool deck for 6 AM is easy when you know people truly want to be there!
The Edmonton event in Hawrelak Park has racers face a few challenges that other swim courses don’t offer. There are several direction changes including swimming around an island and a short run between laps (if competing in the standard distance triathlon). In the years I’ve watched or participated in the race, I’ve noticed a few people have some directional challenges in open water. How can we go where we want to go? Does your post –race Garmin notice look like an ECG print out? If that’s you, maybe I can help!
STREAMLINE – Our arms greatly affect the direction of travel and when swimming we tend to spend a lot of time with arms over our head. Take a minute to stand in front of a mirror. Put your arms over your head. Hands straight up from your shoulders, finger tips to the ceiling. Comfy? Now stay there for five minutes. Hate me now? This is a simple trick you can do daily that will make you swim straighter. If you get into the practice of pointing your arms where you want to go and holding it there, when you get in the water you’ll be ready.
DRILLS - How long should you hold the arm out with each stroke? – Hold your arm out front until the opposite hand gets to face level on recovery or when the hand enters the water to start the next pull. A common mistake is bringing your hands to mid-line from the forehead or nose. That error, when fatigued, will cause the hands to cross the centre line and create a zig-zag effect. Practice in the pool with the CATCH-UP drill. Take a full pull - bring your arm around - keeping the opposite arm out front while staying on your side - touch hands at the end of the rotation. Once the hands touch, the bottom hand begins a stroke.
Try this, it’s my favourite: The six kick drill. Take three full strokes, lay on your side – keep your water arm above the head pointing to the end of the pool while the pulling arm pauses pointing to the ceiling for six kicks. Repeat. Remember with all drill – SLOW DOWN!! Taking time to focus on all the components is worth the wait. I find drills are the most effective at the end of a workout because you’re tired. If you can do things right when you are tired, you’ll always do them right.
You can find me on the pool deck at Terwillegar Recreation Centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7 am and at the Kinsmen Recreation Centre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6-7 am. The Edmonton Triathlon Club is hosting an open water training session on June 23, 2017 from 1-3 pm at Allan Beach. I’ll be reviewing these tips and other open water tactics.
Lincoln Flanagan has been coaching swimming at the community level with the city of Edmonton since 2008. He also works with the Edmonton Triathlon Club, Aerobic Power and teaches private lessons. He was a competitive swimmer for 10 years, competing at the national level and is a Registered Massage Therapist. Feel free to contact him at LincolnFlanaganrmt@gmail.com