DRILL: This is a time to really work on your form. The goal of a drill set is not to swim at any given pace, but instead focus on proper form.
KICK: Facing the sky with your arms by your side, this drill requires you to use your legs for propulsion. Be aware of how close you are to the wall so you don’t swim into it!
PULL: This set eliminates the use of your legs. It requires a leg buoy that you can swim with between your legs. The buoy will keep your body in the correct orientation. By removing your legs from the drill you will be required to only use your arms. This will help you focus on efficient form and making the most of each stroke!
SUPER SLOW DRILL: This should be done 25m at a time. Slow down your stroke rate as much as possible. In fact, the point here is to see how slowly you can go without sinking to the bottom. Concentrate on swimming with perfect form by focusing on the position of your hands, body and feet. This drill will help you keep your balance in the water. If you can balance going slow, you can balance going fast.
OPEN ARM FREESTYLE: This is an old standby. Put your non-pulling arm out in front of your body and swim using the opposite arm. Take some time to watch the arm that is pulling. Ask yourself, “Is my elbow over my hand?” or “Are my fingertips pointing toward the bottom of the pool?” You want to move your hand down your side as if you are splitting your body in half with your fingertips. Your emphasis should be on power and efficiency, not on speed. See how few strokes you can take to get down the pool. Once you get comfortable, you can take the non-pulling arm and bring it down to your side.
3-3-3: Just what it says on the box - take three strokes with your left, three with your right and three whole strokes (6 arm pulls). This drill will continue to work on the efficiency of the one-arm strokes, the transfer of power from right to left and the efficiency of your full stroke.
CATCH UP: Another old standby. Swim freestyle one arm at a time. Take a stroke with the right and fully extend the arm in front of the body beside the left arm, but keep it in line with your shoulder. Then take your pull with the left hand. Be sure that you are not rushing. Aim to pull as much water as you can with each arm stroke. Remember, freestyle is not of stroke of constant propulsion. It is a pull with the left and then the right. It is important that we approach it this way.
3/4 CATCH UP: A variation to catch-up that takes us closer to the full stroke. Another way to describe this is almost catch-up. Take a stroke with the right hand, wait until this hand is almost all the way through recovery and then start your pull with the left. This creates a very rhythmic feel, almost like skating through the water. Take your pull and ride the glide from it. When you lose speed, take your next pull. You want a good example of this? Watch footage of the Aussies in the pool, particularly Ian Thorpe. He races like this drill. Efficiency is your goal.
SIDE-GLIDE-KICK: Push off the wall on your side and kick for eight kicks. Keep your ear on your arm and your body straight. Make sure your knees are passing one another when you kick. Eight strokes and then take a good pull with your sky-facing arm. Use this pull to roll you to the other side and repeat the cycle.
ELBOW-HIP-ELBOW: A variation of ‘Side-Glide-Kick’ with the same desired outcome. With the left arm extended in front, take a stroke with the right arm. On recovery, touch your left elbow (which has remained extended in front of your body) with your right hand. While kicking and balancing, bring your right hand to your right hip, then back up to the left elbow. Then extend the right hand in front and hold it there while repeating the process with the left arm. Complete eight kicks between this motion just like the Slide-Glide-Kick.
FIST DRILL: Swim freestyle with your hands in fists. This will force you to get your forearms involved in the stoke. Consider your forearms for a second: they have more surface area than your hands - so use that to your advantage! Keep your elbow high under the water. Your forearm from elbow to fingertips, should be perpendicular to the bottom of the pool.
CORKSCREW: The corkscrew is done by alternating one stroke of freestyle and one stroke of backstroke. This repetition makes you roll over and around from front to back repeatedly, thus “corkscrewing”. The natural tendency is to cross your arm across your body when rolling from your back to your stomach and this drill helps combat that. Try to take perfect midline strokes over and over.
ZIPPER DRILL: While swimming freestyle pull the fingers up the side of the body until they come up into the armpit. The point of this drill is to keep a nice high elbow on recovery and to force the body to roll.