Originally published May 13, 2005
Here’s a REALLY fun way to add some productive fun to your practices. Stretch-Cord Release takes the lessons learned from resisted swimming and converts them directly into actual swimming.
Even though stretch-cord swimming is fun, it’s not EASY. It requires intense focus, intense effort, and, well, intense INTENSITY. Be sure to keep the rest interval high, and the effort and intensity level WAY up. The other thing to remember is SAFETY. Whenever you are using a stretch cord, make sure that the cord itself is in good shape, with no cracks or tears. And remember to keep the deck clear of traffic at the end of your lane.
Why Do It:
When swimming against the cord, the swimmer learns how to leverage better on the water, how to hold on to the water, and how to streamline in order to move forward, even if just a bit on each stroke. When released, the swimmer can take those skills and translate them into an aggressive finishing stroke that ends in an aggressive finish at the wall. Did I say to be intense about this?
How to Do It:
1. This is a partner drill, and usually requires a thicker cord. We use what’s called a "grudge belt," which is a thick cord with TWO belts — one on each end. It’s typically used to pit two swimmers against each other in the middle of the pool. The athletes start swimming toward opposite ends of the pool, and the contest is to see which one can get to the wall first. It’s LOADS of fun. In this case, however,the coach (lazy me), just holds on to the other belt.
2. The swimmer straps into the belt and both of you go to midpool — somewhere just beyond the flags. The swimmer then starts sprinting to the end of the pool, while the partner starts to slowly move away from the swimmer
3. After the swimmer has been sprinting for 5 to 10 seconds, the partner slowly moves TOWARD the swimmer to begin the release. Don’t just release the belt, or you may risk SNAPPING the swimmer. And, as always, keep the cord under water. Once you feel confident that you’re not going to injure anyone, release the belt.
4. Now it’s the swimmer’s job to continue this aggressive, sprinting stroke, and get to the wall as fast as possible. The cadence of the stroke shouldn’t change at all, and the swimmer’s goal is to hit the wall WITH that cadence, finishing with a full stroke.
5. Finally, as a coach or partner, it’s your responsibility to make sure the swimmer gets EVERYTHING possible out of this exercise. So…make him swim the cord back out to where you are, and then make him do it all over again. 🙂
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
SPRINT, SPRINT, SPRINT. This is an intense drill and should be done only for short distances, with plenty of rest. Don’t forget to induce pain on your athletes through WORK, not through SNAPPING them with the cord. Keep it deep under water, and CONTROL the release. Coaches and partners, it’s hard work treading water for 10 minutes of this, so make sure you’re warmed up properly. Usually swimming to the 12-1/2 does it for me, and this way the swimmer can’t claim you didn’t do your part in the practice. Enjoy.