Training Tips

Tips, advice, and answers for swimmers and parents.

The Individual Medley (IM)

These past couple of meets there have been some frequent disqualifications on the same thing - an illegal flip turn switching from backstroke to breaststroke. In the 200 IM, the flip turn in the middle of the 50 backstroke is legal, but when you change strokes, in both the 100 and the 200 there is no flip turn allowed. You must touch on your back and turn onto your stomach at the wall. There IS a very tricky option called the "suicide turn" that is very much like a flip turn, but completely legal because you touch the wall on your back and use your one arm to throw your legs over your head to push off the wall. (This video includes that turn, as well as all of the other legal turns for the IM:

 If your child would like to learn the more technical turn we as coaches would love to help them during practice. We just do not like seeing so many kids get disqualified for the same problem. The best way to make sure this turns are correct in a race is to not slack on the technique during practice. I know I occasionally skip the correct underwater for breaststroke and touch the wall on my stomach for backstroke during a practice when I get tired. I try really hard not to though, because it is a very bad habit to get into and can cost you a race. 

Swimming Techniques 

A lot of practice is spent on stroke drills in order to make every child's stroke as efficint as possible. Endurance and sprint training helps performance in a race, but proper technique can win it. Parents have been asking me about stroke technique that was explained to their kids during practice or in general to help their child swim more efficiently. The best way to learn what a stroke should look like is to watch videos of swimmers on YouTube. Official films, especially from the Olympics, help with underwater footage and the commentators sometimes know what they are talking about. ;)

I have found that watching the pros swim over and over again I begin to notice the little things that they do, and things that I don't do, that make them a better swimmer than myself. There is also a bit of mimicking involved. If I watch enough videos I begin to adopt the same forms and habits of the fantastic swimmers I watch. So, encourage your swimmers to watch some videos, and watch along with them. You both can get excited about swimming like the Olympians. :) 

Here are some links to some videos you can watch, or explore on your own! Have fun!

  • Lochte and Phelps swim the 200 IM. You can see how to swim all of the strokes and the turns.

  • This is the 4x200 Freestyle Relay. Check out the flip turns and relay exchanges.

  • Rebecca Soni swimming the 200 breaststroke.

  • This channel is full of little instructional videos. :)

After Practice

It sounds weird, but drink a cup of chocolate milk! It is a powerful recovery drink. I drank it after every practice, it helped me incredibly while I was swimming doubles. The protein, fat, and sugar all contribute to helping muscles recover. If you are an older athele, Coach Grant suggests adding some protein powder for an extra oomph! 

Meet Prep

If this is your first meet and you’re looking for some direction, and even if this is not your first turn around the merry-go-round, here are some tips from what I have found is the best way to be prepared for a long meet.


The day of:

What to eat - eat breakfast! Not a whole dozen donuts. Instead choose a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, scrambled eggs with veggies, or a bagel with peanut butter and an apple.This fills your fuel tank early so that you don’t have to eat a whole lot during the meet. Try not to drink orange juice or anything very acidic. Bring or buy small snacks at the meet like a baggy of trail mix, some fruit, some veggies, protein bars or pretzels. Eat lightly for energy. Save candy and heavy meals for after the meet as a reward for a best time! 


What to bring

  1. Sweat pants, sweat shirts, t-shirts, or shorts. Keep those muscles warm and ready to race! Bring more than one set in case one pair gets wet and cold. 
  2. Even bring a hat! It will help trap your body heat. 
  3. A pair of deck tennis shoes. Your feet will get tired after walking on them without any support. I always had a pair of old tennis shoes that I would wear to keep my feet supported and warm, and I didn’t slip and fall like I did with flip flops. 
  4. Bring more than one towel, especially if you are swimming multiple races. Towels don’t dry very fast indoors, and it is important to stay dry and warm. 
  5. An extra pair of goggles and caps. They will break, always be prepared. :)
  6. Snacks! Listed above.
  7. Motivation! Bring what will get you pumped up, whether it be an iPod with pump up music, a good luck stuffed animal, or a sheet with your goal times. Find that thing or routine that gets you ready to race! 

The day before:

What to do - don’t just sit around on the couch all day, but don’t go jumping on a trampoline all day either. Stay active but don’t over exert yourself. Keep those muscles moving because a body in motion stays in motion.

What to eat - Don’t go for a huge carb load, like a whole pot of spaghetti. Eat healthy foods like veggies, protein, and a normal amount of carbs. And skip dessert. 


TWO nights before: This is what really counts! Oddly enough it’s not the night before, but two nights before that can affect your performance during the meet.

What to do - Make sure you get to bed on time and get plenty of sleep.

What to eat - keep it as healthy as possible. This is the day that you can carb load, not the night before.