June 6, 2018
We swim so many times each week and each season that it’s bound to happen…
The steaming hot pile of garbage that is a bad swim practice.
Where nothing goes right…
Your feel for the water has gone bye-bye…
You feel tired, sluggish, and simply don’t wanna be there.
I’ve seen that exact “screw this” moment pass over the faces of countless swimmers (including myself).
It looks a bit like this: Big sigh, shake of the head, the defeated sag of the shoulders.
But before you throw your chlorinated hands in the air in exasperation, let’s take a collective breath and reassess the situation.
Okie dokes, we don’t feel that great in the water.
(Though to be fair, we can’t always trust how we feel, but that’s for another time…)
And yeah, the times we are putting up are bush league compared to what we usually do in practice.
But that doesn’t mean the next hour and a bit has to go to waste.
You don’t need to go a near-PB in practice to make it a success.
And you don’t need to feel perfect in the water to give a focused effort.
Get Out of a Bad Practice By Swimming Good
Wanna know the secret to getting out of a bad practice?
Throwing more blind effort at something doesn’t always work.
In fact, if you’re not starting with a strong technical foundation more effort is just creating bad swimming…
The secret to swimming fast isn’t swimming hard.
It’s swimming well.
Here are some things you can do to crank up the “well” side of your swimming:
Slow things down.
I know, I know—going “slow” isn’t the problem here. It’s the feeling like we are going slow despite our best effort.
Flip the switch by going extra slow on purpose.
I’m not talking about swimming sloppy slow—that serves no purpose.
But how slow can you go with absolutely perfect technique?
This is harder than it sounds—it requires all kinds of concentration and focus to nail your hand placement, balance your hips and legs, and pull evenly.
Work your streamline.
There’s something about having your streamline on point that just makes everything in the water better.
After all, when you are pushing off the wall this is the moment you are going fastest in the pool. A slightly tighter streamline gives you a little speed nudge that carries into the rest of your swimming.
Tighten it up. Lock it up. Nail it down. You get the idea.
Pick the soft spot of your stroke and drill it out.
What’s one thing in your stroke you wish you could improve? What’s that one thing you know is causing you problems?
Throw a whole bunch of focused drill work at it.
For myself, my left hand slides under my waist when I breathe to the right. This is something I have been working on fixing for literally six months. It’s a little something-something that I know is causing me problems when swimming at a high intensity.
On off days (and even on “on” days too) I make sure to throw some reps of laser-focused drill work at this particular problem.
Sculling. Kicking on the side. Single arm free. And more sculling.
Your swim practices don’t have to fully go to sucky town when you are feeling off.
As Katie Ledecky once noted, there isn’t really such a thing as a terrible practice.
There's always something you can be working on to improve:
“I try to make the good days great and take something positive from the days I’m not feeling good—work on technique or something like that.”
See ya in the water,
P.S. Minimizing the lows is a huge benefit of being mentally tough.
When you can take sucky situations and still manage to find something positive and productive out of them you are doubling up on your progress in the water, and also keeping your confidence and mindset steered in a productive direction.
Learning how to be more resilient, grittier and mentally tougher is a huge part of Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide for a High-Performance Mindset.
After all, bad practices happen to all of us.
(Even superhumans like Katie Ledecky.)
The difference is how you are going to handle it.
Wanna learn what else Conquer the Pool can do for you and your swimming?