THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS SHIFTED
TRAINING From Pool to Pond
GEAR Swim Toys 29 Wetsuits 30
GROUP DYNAMICS One of the single biggest difference between indoor and outdoor swimming is the proximity to other swimmers – a lot of other swimmers. For many newcombers to the sport, mass starts and drafting are the most intimidating elements. Working on these skills in the pool can help alleviate some of the the anxiety at the start line.
Starting in late winter I have my group do mass starts in the pool. We might have anywhere from 10 to 16 swimmers bunched into two lanes. Many of the swimmers report that these starts are more aggressive than many of the races they’ve been in. Learn to look for feet instead of trying to find clean water. Do it enough and you’ll learn that your worst fears, even if realized – a kick or a punch – are never as bad as you think they’re going to be. You take the hit and keep going.
There are any number of ways to do drafting drills. I have my club form groups of two to four swimmers and have them do longer swims where they switch leads every 50 or 100 metres. Sometimes the front swimmer will hit the wall and stop while the rest pull through. Or the front swimmer can pull over and swim easy while the line goes by. A tougher way is for the last swimmer to accelerate and overtake the line. Even when you’re swimming in a 50-metre pool this can be more challenging than it sounds. Another fun option is to have the front swimmer in the line stop a metre or two from the wall and do a vertical kick while the rest of the swimmers snake around without touching the wall.
If your group has a good relationship with pool staff you can get them to pull the lane ropes, drop in some buoys and then practice going around them, too. I’ll start the swimmers off 10 seconds apart at first, then send them off in pairs and, eventually, in groups. It’s always one of the more enjoyable sessions for the group.
In order to do most of these drills you need to work together with other swimmers. If you don’t swim with a group it can be a challenge to get these types of workouts done, but if you can gather a group of triathletes together for the odd workout you can work in some of these sets.