Here’s a drill that might make your coach really, really, REALLY upset. It could even get you thrown out of practice, so you might want to do this drill on your own or let Coach know what you’re doing. After you’ve practiced it for a while, you could even ask Coach to check your lane-line pulling technique (see Fine Points below).
– Even the trailer on Aaron Peirsol’s DVD shows what this drill helps with.
Pulling on the lane line is something you should just NEVER do EXCEPT when you need to work on your backstroke recovery. Pulling on the lane line can help you go from a straight-arm recovery (poor technique) to a bent-arm recovery (good technique). How do you know if you have a straight-arm recovery? Usually, you bounce up and down when you swim, or you surge rather than FLOW through the water. Pulling on the lane line can also help you initiate the catch a little sooner.
How To Do It:
1. Push off on your back, REALLY close to the lane line — close enough so that you scrape your armpit on the lane line.
2. If Coach hasn’t already yelled at you for getting tangled up in the lane line, start swimming backstroke, except that you will be pulling on the lane line with one hand. Grab the lane line with the first joint of your fingers, not with your whole hand, and pull your body past your hand.
3. Take two or three strokes using the lane line, then swim the rest of the lap without using the lane line. When you let go and swim on your own, maintain the same bent-arm motion that you used when pulling on the lane line.
4. Figure out how to practice this drill with BOTH arms. Hint: You will need your own lane or will need to split the lane.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. When you use the lane line, focus on bending your elbow and keeping the elbow close to your body.
2. DON’T SURGE! Make your pull steady and easy. Someone on deck should not be able to tell when you’re pulling on the lane line and when you’re not. (Ask Coach to check your technique!)
3. When your hand enters the water, initiate the "catch" IMMEDIATELY (but don’t bounce or surge). Practice a fast catch when you’re using the lane line AND when you’re swimming on your own.