When Swimming Last Makes you First

It’s always amazing to me, as a coach, that even when we all know something is good, certain people refuse to practice it daily.

If there’s a question about whether underwater dolphin kicks off the wall are effective, please take a look at NCAAs…and take your pick of DI, DII, or DIII.  While the distance the swimmers use off the wall may vary, there will be very few NCAA swimmers at the national level who aren’t masters at underwaters.

How can an average, every-day, age-group swimmer be expected to practice better underwaters off every wall?  They just have to remember that there are certain times when EVERYTHING is a competition.

For swimmers it’s actually very easy.  During practice, keep your eyes open when you push off the wall.  Take a peek at the person next to you off each wall.  Who blinks first?  Who takes that first stroke?  Can YOU be the person who, day after day in practice, is the last person swimming?  Can YOU be the one who works the underwaters better than everyone else around you?

These are the skills that you need to practice every day…on every length.   If you wait for that special “underwater-kick day” to work on these skills, you will be left behind.  To become highly skilled at underwater dolphins, you must practice them at every practice, off every wall.  You have to remember that if you become really good at these, you’ll be spending more time under water, which means less you will be getting less air.  Because of that, this isn’t something you can add at the end of the season.  Rather, it’s something that requires three or four months of training for your body (and brain) to adapt.

The BEST time to start demanding from yourself better underwater dolphins is at the very beginning of a new season.  You don’t have to start by making the 15-meter mark each time.  Think NUMBER of dolphin kicks.  Pick a number and be consistent at doing that NUMBER of dolphins of every wall…no matter what.  If a certain number of dolphins becomes do-able, add another, and be consistent.  Then add another, then another… until you and your coach determine that more dolphins are counterproductive.   You will get to the point where you may either run out of momentum, or run out of air.  You’ll also need to take in to consideration what race you’re training for, and what the typical underwater patterns are for the great swimmers for those races.

We’ll keep this simple.  Unless you have great underwaters, you’ll eventually come up against someone who isn’t as good of a swimmer as you, but who won’t need to be because they’ll beat you so bad off the walls.  Why not be the person who has both things: great underwaters and great strokes?

Be the last to swim when looking at all around you every day.  It WILL pay off in the long run.