Fix your stroke by training with a snorkel

One of the keys to improving your swimming technique is to improve your body position in the water. A snorkel can help you achieve a better position and make it easier to fix your stroke.

| September 19, 2017 | TRAINING

Two-time Ironman world champion Jan Frodeno uses the PowerBreather as a training tool.

Two-time Ironman world champion Jan Frodeno uses the PowerBreather as a training tool.

Photo >Hersteller

As Daniel Bullock pointed out so well in the series of stories we posted earlier this summer on stopping “one arm swimming,” a good swimming position for the arms involves a pivot at the elbow rather than the shoulder, having the elbow travel out keeping the hand quite central and turning the forearm vertical. This will enhance the surface area of the hand as you anchor the water and attempt to pull yourself past the hand from an early vertical forearm position. You don't just pull with the hand - you use your vertical forearm to assist. The more surface area involved, the harder it is to pull on the water. So, in fact, a streamlined body can then travel forwards and over the anchored hand. The fingertip to elbow position is now in a place it can be of help, i.e. pushing water back towards the feet and not down to the bottom of the pool.

Keep your head still

It all sounds good, right, but achieving that “ideal” position can be difficult when you have to move your head to breath. It is a lot easier to do when your head is in a neutral position and you’re not breathing. Problems arise when the head turns to breathe and, unfortunately, when we swim, we need to turn the head to breathe, making this issue incredibly difficult to fix.

That’s why you’ll see many coaches have their athletes do drills and some of their swimming with a snorkel – it allows them to stay in the appropriate position to work on their stroke. Using a snorkel comes close to helping break the link between the head turning to breathe and the arm stabilizing. Adding a snorkel (like Ameo’s PowerBreather, which has other benefits that will help your training, too) will be a great help as a first step towards breaking this habit, as the head is kept still and better arm pathways can be worked on.

Distance per stroke drills

One of the best drills you can work on with your snorkel is to count how many strokes it takes you do a length of the pool and see if you can reduce that number. Many triathletes struggle to even manage 25 strokes for 25 m, which means there’s a lot of wasted effort as the momentum is not there to keep moving you forwards. An elite swimmer takes 30 or less strokes over 50 m – that gives you an idea of just how much more efficient you should be in the water.