Swim Drill Of The Week: Delayed Recovery Freestyle

Welcome to the “Swim Drill of the Week.” Swimming World will be bringing you a drill, concept, or tip that you can 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), Drill Of The Week excerpts are meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.

This week’s drill is Delayed Recovery Freestyle, a drill that works on the finish of the stroke while also checking your swimmers in with their rotation and body position. It is also a great drill to remind your swimmers to stay long in front with their lead arm.

To perform the drill, your swimmers will simply pause at the back end of their stroke following their underwater pull. This “paused” position will be similar to a hand lead balance kick drill or the kicking portion of six kick DPS, with one arm fully extended and one arm down close to the side.

But what makes this drill different is that you only want your athletes to pause briefly at the back end of the stroke before continuing with their normal recovery. The result will be a slightly “hitchy” freestyle that is should be performed slowly to check in with all aspects of their stroke. Obviously, if your swimmers are dropping their elbow or finishing short in their strokes this is a great drill to spot that and correct it, as they are literally pausing at the end point of their pull.

But this is also a good drill to remind your swimmers about proper body position and extension. When they are in that brief paused position your swimmers should keep their lead arm steady and extended in front through the finish of their stroke, reminding them not to initiate their pull early. Also, when they’re paused you will be able to see any delays in their hip or shoulder rotation.

When you switch back to full stroke swimming, make sure your athletes are not keeping the pause at the end of their stroke. This is a great drill to add to the end of balance or underwater pull drill progressions to remind your swimmers to have long, efficient stroke. Happy swimming!

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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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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