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The Endurance Store Swim Club: Master The Backstroke

The Endurance Store Swim Club provides you with simple swim training plans throughout the winter months. The plan runs October to October and is completely free. We only ask that you pre-register so that your training plans can be emailed directly.

Registration is free and you may unsubscribe at any time from the Swim Club and stop receiving updates. Overview of the swim plan be seen below, but before you start you need to complete a test to set your swim paces, then register and download the sessions. GO HERE to register for swim club.

If you're following The Endurance Store Swim Club plan, you'll notice there's a mixed stroke session include breaststroke and backstroke. If you're a triathlete, this may be your worst nightmare, especially in you are firmly in the 'front crawl only' camp. Here's the reasons why you should include other strokes in your workout:

1. It develops better all round swim fitness and your front crawl will benefit
2. It reduces risk of overuse injuries
3. It reduces risk of boredom
4. It's always good to learn something new
5. You'll find it very hard, so it'll move you out of your comfort zone

Almost everyone can do some form of breaststroke, even if it's not pretty. If you've been following the session plan, you will know already how hard breaststroke is, requiring a great deal of upper body strength. Breaststroke is great for shoulder strength and 'catch' as it's all about the short 'catch & pull' to provide propulsion.

Backstroke is a little bit more difficult, some people will struggle to do even a single length. So here's our basic guide to get you started:

1. You'll find it easier if you use swim fins to start with
2. Keep the legs long and don't bend at the knees when you kick
3. You legs will hang low in the water so you'll need to really focus on lifting them up to the surface
4. To help the above, you need to push your hips up to the surface and tense your stomach
5. Look upwards at the roof, don't lift your head and look towards your feet
6. To help the above, push your ears back into the water
7. Keep the head absolutely still, try to pick a line on the roof and follow
8. Stretch to hand entry, your arm should be fully extended, elbow straight and your upper arm should brush your ear (to avoid a wide hand entry)
9. Enter little finger first
10. Pull with bent elbow

Common issues with backstroke:

The legs tend to hang very low in the water when novices attempt backstroke, this is because the kicking phase works in the opposite direction to front crawl. During the front crawl stroke, you get propulsion by KICKING DOWN. If you kick down, this acts to lift your legs (if you press down on water, it pushes you upwards).

When you swim backstroke, the opposite occurs. you get propulsion by KICKING UPWARDS. Kicking upwards has the opposite effect of pushing the legs down (if you push up on water, it pushes you down).

It's easy to find yourself with an arched back, heels dragging the floor and then as a consequence the ears come out of the water and you're looking at your feet (or rather, where your feet should be). You need to push up the hips, contract the stomach and lift the feet.

Try it during your warm up, swim 500m as 50m easy backstroke and 50m easy crawl, you'll soon master the backstroke!

The Endurance Store Swim Club is a free swim training plan. Simply register and you'll receive an email every week with 3 swim sessions in pdf format. You'll also receive training tips and guidance throughout the year. GO HERE to register for swim club

Marc Laithwaite
The Endurance Store

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