I have a 60 year old male swimmer who can’t get the idea of changing gears. Do you have any ideas?
I have a couple of ideas which may help you to improve your swimmer in this area.
The first is to focus on making sure the swimmer is holding the water during each arm stroke. For example in freestyle, many adult swimmers drop their elbows and ‘slide’ their hands and forearm through the water. It is important that the back of the hand and back of the forearm are both facing forward when pulling through. This hold on the water is vital to improving speed when you swim.
The second and more important skill that relates to ‘changing gears’ is to work on using different hand speeds as the swimmer pulls through the water. Experiment with different speeds like slow, medium and fast and see how the swimmer responds. Once they understand that you can pull through with different hand speeds, focus on beginning the stroke with a good catch and then continue to hold the water while your hand and forearm accelerate (get faster) as they pull through. This acceleration is the same in every stroke with the goal to catch and hold their water and then accelerate through.
The key to swimming faster is to catch (hold the water) and then accelerate your hand back through the water (or in actual fact, pull your body forward past your hand more quickly), so that your hand is moving faster than your body is moving forward. This creates increased pressure on the hand and so long as there is no slipping, the body will move forward more quickly. Hand speed is the critical factor in being able to vary your pace when swimming.
The final hint is to do some variable pace work. For example in a 25m pool do 25’s on 40 sec (at least 15 sec rest between each 25) as 4 x (10m fast, 15m easy) then 4 x (15m fast, 10m easy) then 4 x (15m easy, 10m fast) and ask the swimmers to experiment with their speed.
Hope this helps Barb and let me know how you go.
If anyone else has suggestions, please leave them in the comments section below.
The Swimming Expert