Swim Drill Of The Week: Zipper Drill


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 Zipper Drill for freestyle. The drill is a great drill for beginners to teach a high elbow recovery and stable body position. To perform the drill, swimmers will swim freestyle normally with one exception: on the recovery phase of their stroke, they will drag their thumb along the side of their torso as if they were close a zipper. Once they reach their armpit swimmers can finish their recovery phase as normal, entering the water in front of their stroke and continuing with their pull cycle.

The main point of this drill is to reinforce a relaxed high elbow recovery in freestyle. Often, particularly with younger swimmers and beginners, swimmers will force their way through the recovery, swinging their arms to the side and/or using too much force to bring their arms forward and enter the water. This drill makes swimmers feel how much easier and efficient it is to use a high elbow recovery to bring the arm forward.

An added benefit of the drill is that it also reinforces proper body position. A side effect of swinging the arms around and expending too much energy on the recovery phase of the stroke is a loss of rotation and core control. By keeping the recovery tight in line with a swimmer’s body and forcing them to relax and slow down the stroke, the drill reinforces an in-line body position and reminds swimmers to use their legs and core to maintain a solid position in the water. 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.