In watching the Olympics, we can’t help but notice the impact that "lopers" are having in freestyle. While high-rate freestylers and straight-arm freestylers have been getting the most attention this year for the speeds they’ve achieved, lopers are certainly making a HUGE impact.
For those of us who want to play with Olympian technique, yet can’t go to the pool and immediately develop sustained high-rate freestyles, loping is a fun way to experience what some of the athletes are feeling when they swim. And, who knows…loping may be just the way for some of us to swim freestyle.
Why Do It:
Loping is a more up-and-down type of stroke, but it allows a swimmer to develop huge power and, in some cases, to reduce resistance. Besides, when was the last time you tried a totally new FREESTYLE?
How to Do It:
1. You can start with or without fins, but you’ll quickly realize loping is very leg dependent. We started with fins, and went through a progression of 8-6-4-2… which is 8 kicks, 6 kicks, 4 kicks, and then sorta sprint, or 2 kicks.
2. Basically, this drill is based around kicking on your side between breaths, with one arm held back while one arm is extended.
3. The tricky part comes when it’s time to stroke and breathe. You’ll BREATHE to the side of the extended arm.
4) When it’s time to stroke with the extended arm, you’ll also pop up for a breath, then dive back down for your 8, 6 or 4 kicks… in the side-lying position.
5) When you dive back down, try to make sure your head gets under water and your eyes are looking down.
6) By the time you get to 2 kicks, you’ll probably not be able to count the kicks, it’s more of a constant kick with the lunging, or pressing down farther with the head and lead arm to make sure you actually go BENEATH the surface.
7) Take off the fins and repeat the set.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
The goal here is to try to maximize the time you spend UNDER WATER. In simple terms, we all know we travel farther and faster UNDER water, so lets give it a shot on freestyle, in between strokes.
We have a nice mix of swimmers trying this drill, from a college-age, distance freestyler with a more natural lope, to a Masters swimmer, to a triathlete. Give it a shot, and see how you do. If nothing else, you’ll feel like Mike… if just for a length.