FINIS Tip Of The Week: Sprints From Mid-Pool


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Welcome to the “FINIS Tip of the Week.” Swimming World will be bringing you a topic that we’ll explore with drills and concepts for you to implement with your team on a regular basis. While certain weeks may be more appropriate for specific levels of swimming (club, high school, college, or masters), each tip is meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.

This week’s tip explains the benefits of mid-pool sprints from a dead stop. This training technique is an excellent way to develop body awareness, breath control, and power in your swimmers, and is a fun way to incorporate a different style of sprint training.

Swimmers should start somewhere in the middle of the lane, away from the wall, sculling in a prone position on the surface of the water. After 5 seconds of sculling in place, they should drop their heads and start an all-out sprint for anywhere from 2 or 3 cycles to the entire rest of the length.

The focus should be on total body control and getting up to full speed as fast as possible. Obviously, the lack of a wall makes this more difficult, which means swimmers need to focus on driving power from their legs, getting quickly up to sprint stroke tempo, and engaging their core to keep their stroke connected as they accelerate through the water.

A common mistake with this exercise is to grab a breath on the first stroke or breaking body position (by diving or undulating) to generate some acceleration. Encourage your swimmers to start from a prone position and work to figure out how to accelerate from there. When done repeatedly, this will teach athletes how to get to top speed quickly and have a better awareness of how to use their body to hold onto their speed.

This is a particularly effective practice strategy to mix up long course sprint training, giving you a way to incorporate shorter, high-intensity sprints. Adding some combination of snorkels, fins, paddles, or even resistance (parachutes, drag socks, etc.) are all ways to use the technique to develop power and challenge an athlete’s notions of how to generate acceleration.

All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.

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