If youï¿½re training for long-course competition in a short-course pool, the swim tether can become your secret weapon. A swim tether consists of 20 to 22 feet of surgical tubing with a loop of webbing at either end. You secure one of the loops to a starting block or lane-line bolt, and then slide a webbed belt through the other loop. Strap the webbed belt around your waist and youï¿½re ready to go.
Why Do It:
The tether lets you swim in place, so you can take an unlimited number of strokes without interruption ï¿½ no walls, no turns. This allows you to simulate long-course swimming, where you typically take 20 or more strokes on each length. Even if youï¿½re not training for long-course, and youï¿½re interested simply in improving your breaststroke kick, the swim tether is a great tool. Using a tether allows you to get into a groove, to really think about your kick, and to experiment without being interrupted by walls or pullouts. It also helps you pinpoint any ï¿½dead spotsï¿½ in your kick ï¿½ places where you are experiencing more drag than propulsion. If you hit a dead spot, youï¿½ll know it! Youï¿½ll feel yourself being pulled backward by the cord.
How To Do It:
1. Make sure your tether is securely anchored and that no one is behind you on the deck (you donï¿½t want anyone to get hurt in the unlikely event that the tether breaks or snaps). Then secure the tether belt around your waist.
2. Push off the wall in streamline, do a breaststroke pull down, and keep your hands at your sides as you continue to kick breaststroke.
3. When the cord begins to tighten, keep kicking in place.
4. Keep kicking.
5. After about 20 kicks (sooner if you feel like you are drowning), stop and regroup. If you are moving backward between kicks, or if you are taking in a lot of water when you go for air, you need to make some adjustments. If you are moving backward, you have a dead spot in your kick. Try taking smaller kicks or more narrow kicks, and try to get your hips up and over the water as you deliver each kick. If you are swallowing water during the breath, you may be diving too deep AFTER the breath. Diving too deep slows down your rhythm and forces you to have to CLIMB back up to the surface for each bite of air.
6. Try another 20 kicks, but this time with a little faster rhythm. You want to undulate with your body, but keep your ï¿½sine waveï¿½ shallow and near the surface. Try to send your upper body FORWARD rather than DOWN after each breath. Keep the kick narrow, light, quick. Do the work with your body and HIPS.
7. Stop again and regroup. Donï¿½t give up! Who cares if you get a little water up your nose, right? Itï¿½s a valuable learning experience! Try another set of 20 kicks and try to stay a little more shallow, a little smoother with your body undulation, a little quicker with your legs. Get the hips up and over. Do 4 to 6 sets of 20 kicks and then take a break. Try swimming breaststroke without the tether, maintaining your quickness and rhythm.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. Once you have a good rhythm and can do 20 kicks without too much trouble, start to be aware of how well you are staying in place when you do the drill. Use the tiles or markings on the bottom of the pool ï¿½ or a lane-line marker ï¿½ as your guide. Try to maintain your position for 20 kicks. If you are slipping backward, you still have a dead spot in your kick. Experiment with the width of your kick, the pitch of your ankles and feet, the amplitude of your body wave until you find the perfect combination of elements.