Training for Fly: Seven Special Secrets and Sets

By Wayne Goldsmith

This is the first in a series of four articles of special training sets designed to improve your swimming strokes.

1. BK – SK – FK – SK (Kick drill)

The trick to a great fly kick is to learn to kick with strong, flowing, even power and rhythm in both directions.

Try this drill:

Push off in with your arms by your side. Kick six kicks on your back, rotate to your left side and kick six kicks on your side, then rotate over to your tummy and kick six kicks on your front and rotate over again to your right side for another six kicks.

The aim is to keep a strong, even, flowing kicking movement throughout the drill, particularly the first and last kicks after and before you rotate to a new position.

2. Power on – power off drill

Without doubt the single most important concept in fly. When your arms are under the water, it’s Power On – feel, catch then pull with power and acceleration. But, as soon as your arms leave the water, it’s Power Off – long, loping, relaxed, easy arms in recovery.

To practice, put on your fins. Push off in streamline. Do slow motion, one-arm fly with the resting arm by your side. As you complete the one-arm fly, say to yourself:

** Power On (one hand entry)
** Power Off (as your hand – little finger first) exits the water.

Get a flowing rhythm going – Power On/ Power Off/ Power On/Power Off/Power On/Power Off…….you will be amazed how well this works!

3. O’Neil Strength drill

Lots of variations of this drill but I like Susie O’Neil’s version best.

5 x 50 fly on 1:30 as (25 kick on your back / 25 sprint) – short course pool.

First 50. A 25 fly kick on your back carrying your water bottle with both hands and straight arms. The bottle should be pointed straight up to the sky and your arms at right angles to the water. Leave your bottle at the end of the pool and sprint 25 fly.

Second 50. Same as the first 50 but this time carrying your pull buoy straight overhead – arms at right angles to the water surface.

Third 50. Same as above but this time carrying your fins.

Fourth 50. Same as above but carrying your kickboard overhead – arms at right angles to the water surface.

Fifth 50. Dive, sprint 25 fly. At the end where all your swim gear now is, load up your kick board with your water bottle, pull buoy and fins (lay them on top of the board as if it was a table), hold the fully loaded kickboard straight above your head – arms at right angles to the water surface and kick 25 fly on your back.

This is a really fun drill and yet it actually helps build strength and kicking ability.

4. Best of all fly kick drill – Arms Folded Over Head

5. Countbacks

Great fly swimming is about combining maximum distance per stroke (long strokes) and speed (fast strokes).

This drill is called Countback.

3x (8 x 25 on 1:00). Easy 100 backstroke every 8.

1. Aim to swim 25 fly in 10-12 strokes. Hold 200 meter pace.
2. Do it again and aim to do it in one stroke less – hint: you can go up to 15 metres underwater. Same pace.
3. Do it again and aim for one less stroke. Same pace.
4. Do it again and aim for one less stroke. Same pace.
5. Now hold the number of strokes you achieved in the fourth repeat and pick the pace up to 100 pace.
6. Repeat.
7. Repeat.
8. Now increase your speed to 50 meter pace but maintain the same stroke count.

The aim over time is to do the same drill but over long distances and with shorter rests, a possible progression might be:

** 3 x (8 x 25 fly countback drill on 45)
** 3 x (8 x 25 fly countback drill on 40)
** 3 x (8 x 25 countback drill on 35)
** 3 x (8 x 25 countback drill on 30)
** 2 x (8 x 50 countback drill on 1:30)
** 2 x (8 x 50 countback drill on 1:20)

To make it more challenging, as you improve try to breath every two or even three strokes.

6. Drill / Kick / Swim combinations

The great swimming coach Einstein said training set designs are only limited by your imagination. Try these fly – kick – swim – drill – speed sets.

** 4 x (4 x 50) fly on 60. Each set of four as 1-2. Drill 25/Swim 25, 3. stroke count. 4. explode first 25 meters.
** 8 x 50 fly drill on 60 (25 fast and with power / 25 easy but long strokes).
** 5 x (2 x 50 fly on 60 as drill 30 / explode final 20 meters with no breathing last three strokes to the wall). Easy 100 free between each 2 x 50.
** 4 x (3 x 50 fly on 60 as 1. Drill 50. 2. Swim (stroke count). 3. 25 Moderate / 25 Fast)

7. Long flowing fin fly.

One of the best ways to develop rhythm in fly is to do long reps with fins. Start with 100 meters. Then add 100 meters per week. Aim to be able to swim 800 – 1000 meters fly with fins easily and with flow and rhythm.

Swim only fast enough to maintain momentum and flow. Breathe every two or three if possible concentrating on a relaxed, neutral head position and the “power on / power off” mantra. Try to hit a consistent stroke count and even pace throughout the swim.

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