Swim & Glide Drills

Swim & Glide Drills: As the name suggests, these drills involve taking one or more strokes and then gliding. The focus is on trying to make the transition from side-gliding to taking strokes without losing balance...then to make the transition from strokes back to side-gliding without losing balance - rather than having to "fuss" with the glide position to eventually get it balanced.

They come in several different flavors:

Side-Glide Single Strokes (SGSS): This drill is about taking a single stroke to get from a side gliding position on one side to a side gliding position on your other side. Using your training snorkel, push off from the wall and begin kicking easily in a side-gliding nose-down (Fig A below):

  1. Check your posture and balance feedback points.
  2. Recover your side arm over the surface of the water.
  3. As the recovering hand passes the head (Fig B), use one of your kicks to begin to roll your body, keeping your nose pointed down.
  4. As your body roll begins, start extending your recovering arm forward to enter the water. As that hand pierces the surface, begin your stroke with the other arm. Your hands should pass each other - entering hand moving forward, stroking hand moving backward - in front of your head (Fig C).
  5. Continue the stroke while rolling (Fig D). You want your roll to reach the other side-gliding position just as the stroke reaches its finish to rest on your thigh.
  6. You should now be in a side-gliding nose-down position (Fig E). Take a few breaths as you continue to kick easily (yeah, yeah, the figures show a swimmer without a snorkel, but you're better equipped so go ahead and breathe through the tube to your heart's content). Check your posture and balance feedback points as you continue kicking on your side for a few more kicks. Spend as much time as you need side-gliding to assess and correct your posture such that you are impeccably balanced.
  7. Repeat these actions for each arm in turn for the entire length of the pool.
    5-figure panel for SGSS drill

Side-Glide Single Strokes to Nose-Up (SGSS-NU): This is essentially the same as the SGSS drill but adding a real breathing motion (so eschew the snork for this):

  1. Start side-gliding nose down as you did with the snorkel, continuing with the recovery and beginning of body roll.
  2. As the roll and stroke begins, allow your head to turn with your body. If you allow your head to continue to turn with your body, you should end up in a nose-up side-gliding position at the end of the stroke instead of nose-down.
  3. Take a few breaths in the nose-up position as you continue to kick easily. Check your posture and balance feedback points.
  4. Turn your head back to a nose-down position. You are now in the starting position on the opposite side from where you started. Check your posture and balance again as you continue kicking on your side for a few more kicks.
  5. Repeat these actions for each arm in turn for the entire length of the pool.

This nose-up-glide version of the drill is much more complex to master. You want to be able to complete each stroke fully balanced, in the side gliding nose-up position, with good posture and balance and without having to adjust anything.

Snorkel 3 & Glide (3&G-ND): Using your training snorkel, start by pushing off from the wall and:

  1. Swim three strokes in a normal swimming rhythm.
  2. As you finish that third "pull", leave that arm at your side instead of recovering it over the surface, being sure to roll fully onto your side where you'll stop all action except kicking. The goal is to take that third stroke directly to an impeccably balanced nose-down Side Glide rather than having to "fuss" with the position to eventually get it balanced.
  3. Spend as much time as you need in the side-glide position to assess and correct your posture and balance and to plan for any changes that might improve the next set of three strokes and glide. It is common to need to spend 5 to 10 seconds in each side-glide phase.
  4. Recover the arm from your side forward and be sure it gets well past your head before beginning the next set of three strokes.
  5. Again finish that third pull right into an impeccably balanced nose-down side glide. Note you will be gliding on the opposite side from the previous glide.
  6. Again assess, correct, and plan ahead.
  7. Repeat from step "a" for the length of the pool. Each cycle of three strokes is done in a continuous swimming rhythm. Be sure to start each set of strokes with a (perhaps exaggerated) front-quadrant transition.

You want to be able to complete each set of strokes with good posture and balance and without having to adjust anything.

3 & Glide Nose Up Drill (3&G-NU): This is similar to the Snorkel 3 & Glide drill but instead of using the snorkel and keeping your nose down throughout the drill, you will now finish in the same nose-up position that you finished the SGSS-NU drill:

  1. Swim three strokes in a normal swimming rhythm.
  2. On the last stroke of each set of strokes, let your head turn with your body as you go to your Side Glide so that you end up in Nose-Up Side Glide (but do not take a breath yet).
  3. Assess and correct your posture and balance.
  4. Take a breath (or two or three) and turn your head back to the nose-down position.
  5. Again assess and correct your posture and balance, then plan ahead for the next cycle.
  6. Repeat from step "a" for the length of the pool - each glide on the opposite side from the previous glide. Each cycle of strokes is done in a continuous swimming rhythm. Be sure to start each set of strokes with a (perhaps exaggeratedly) front-quadrant transition.

This nose-up-glide version of the drill is much more complex to master. You want to be able to complete each set of strokes fully balanced, in the side gliding nose-up position, with good posture and balance and without having to adjust anything.

3 & Glide Breathe on 2 Drill (3&G-BrOn2): This is similar to the 3&G-NU drill but instead of going to the air on the last stroke you let your head rotate with your body to the air on the second stroke and return to the nose-down position on the third stroke. If, between sets of three strokes, you find that you need more air, you may turn your head to take an additional breath or two during the glide phase (but only after you have assessed and corrected your posture and balance) and return it to nose-down (and re-check posture and balance) before starting the next set of 3 strokes.

Hints and Feedback Tools

  • Each time you rotate and stroke, you should be aware of your navel pointing directly toward the sidewall, just as it does when you are in side-glide position.
  • Each time you take a stroke, be sure to swap hands out in front of your body, perhaps using the glove focus point from time to time.
  • As you reach the side-glide position at the end of the third stroke of each set, you should feel the dry strip of flesh along your trailing arm. If not, you have either lifted your head up, let pressure off your buoy, lost your tight line, or some combination thereof.
  • Stay in the side-glide position long enough to make any necessary correction and to think through any changes you will need to make on the next set of strokes. It is common to need to spend 5 to 10 seconds in each side glide phase when learning this drill.
  • Uninterrupted tight-line posture is a must for success in this drill.
  • Using a pair of fins (or short-blade fins) can be beneficial in the learning stages of any of these drills.

Experiment a Bit

As you improve at these drills, you can take more strokes in each set of strokes, effectively turning the drills into a 5 & Glide or 7 & Glide drill. This allows you to take two or more breaths during each set of strokes. Only increase the number of strokes once you are able to maintain posture, balance, and rhythm while taking breaths and only once you are able to enter each glide phase with a fully balanced tight line that needs no correction.

Index of all the workout terms, sets, concepts, etc. that have links in the workouts.

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