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UNCONVENTIONAL – Deep-Water Hill Work

This week’s drill is in response to a recent post that describes a basketball-oriented dryland workout that gives swimmers more power off the blocks and walls. One element of the workout was running short distances with high knees. Here’s a way to try some high-knee running in the water

Deep-Water Hill Work is pretty intense, so we’ve combined it with another, more relaxing water stride called "Hurdles." These two water strides are taken from the Go Swim DVD Water Running for the Serious Athlete.

DESCRIBE THE IMAGE Why Do It:
If you’re a swimmer, the first stride will help you get into a tighter, faster tuck when you do turns. The second stride will help stretch your hamstrings. Both strides help you learn to hold on to the water with your hands.

How To Do It:
1. Use a flotation device. They may look clunky, but you need one to maintain correct posture and to help you focus on your legs rather than on getting AIR. Make sure to pull it TIGHT.

2. Start with an EZ 5-minute warmup, Maintain an erect posture, and move you legs as if you were running on land. Use your hands and arms for balance and to keep you from moving all over the pool.

3. Maintain your erect posture, but now imagine you are running with long, smooth, powerful strides up a steep hill. Or… imagine you’re climbing stairs, taking two at a time. Pump the knees and legs as if they were powerful pistons. Keep the elbows bent and work the arms and hands up and down as forcefully as you’re working your legs.

4. Take about 30 "Hill Strides" (You can gradually work up to 50 strides or 30 seconds), and segue immediately to "Hurdles."

5. For Hurdles, imagine you’re moving in slow, fluid, continuous motion over one hurdle after another. Extend the front leg far in front of you and the rear leg far in back. The arms should extend far forward and then push back, to balance each kick. Imagine that you’re using each hand to grab a post that’s in front of you in the water, then pull your body past the post.

6. Take 11 Hurdle strides, and segue immediately into another 30 Hill Strides. Keep alternating 30 Hill Strides and 11 Hurdle Strides for 10 minutes (gradually work up to 15 or even 20 minutes).

7. Finish with 2-3 minutes of EZ water running for warmdown.

How To Do It Really Well (The Fine Points):

1. Maintain good running form – try not to lean forward.

2. Don’t "bicycle." Lift the knees, then send your feet straight down and back.

3. Try it more than once. It takes a couple sessions to get your balance and get your legs in shape for water running.