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Swim Club Blog: Medley... Medley... Medley...

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.

In the words of Mutley the dog, Medley... Medley... Medley... and he knew a bit about swimming. Swim Club provides you with 3 swim sessions per week and one of those sessions is mixed stroke. If you're a triathlete, you're probably only concerned about front crawl and if you are limited to 1-2 swims per week, then there is an argument that front crawl should be you only stroke. However, there are real benefits for triathletes who include breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly in their workouts. 

Breaststroke benefits:

Breaststroke is a 'strength' stroke. You're pretty much relying upon your upper body strength to pull yourself forwards. The breaststroke action very much replicates front crawl 'catch' so it's a great way to develop strength at the 'front of the stroke'. This is even more important for open water swimmers who rely more on force than finesse. If you need to develop your strength and power, then breaststroke is a good place to start. On a negative note, you need to be careful with the kick as it can commonly create knee problems. Your options are to kick gently and avoid excess strain through the knee or as an alternative, use your fins and 'butterfly leg kick'. If you choose fins and butterfly leg kick, then try 2 kicks to one pull... Kick.. Kick.. Pull.. Kick.. Kick.. Pull. 

Backstroke benefits:

Backstroke is good for balance in the water and helps with both shoulder mobility and strength. When you are swimming front crawl, as you kick DOWN this lifts your legs UP. Backstroke works the opposite way, the propulsive part of the kick is as you kick UP which means that the water is pushing your legs DOWN. Kicking on your back makes it more difficult to keep your legs up at the surface and you have to work really hard to maintain a balanced position in the water, much more so than kicking on your front. There is one other thing about backstroke, you spend a lot of time struggling to breathe, swallowing and coughing up water in your mouth. I think this actually makes you more comfortable when swimming in open water. I've seen a lot of open water swimmers panic and stop because they swallow water as they turn to breathe, it happens all the time when you swim backstroke, you'll get over it. Use your fins for backstroke, it makes it much easier and it also means you have to work a lot harder to maintain a balanced / high leg position.

Butterfly benefits:

Butterfly requires exceptional strength and fitness, it also requires a certain amount of shoulder mobility which you may not have. Butterfly kick is incredibly beneficial for core strength and balance in the water, so use you fins, keep your knees and feet together and work on the butterfly kick. The arm action is a bit more difficult and lifting yourself out of the water can be exhausting. If you're a decent swimmer, you should be able to manage at least 8-10 X 25m with 30 seconds recovery, weaker swimmers, you may not be able to manage a single length! If you're a weaker swimmer, try 'one arm butterfly' which is butterfly kick with fins on and simply swinging one arm over in a butterfly action whilst the other stays out in front of you in the 'glide position'. You can alternate left arm for one length and right arm for the next. We've talked in past weeks about 'rhythm' during the front crawl and single arm butterfly is great as there's no glide. Throw your arm over, catch, pull and repeat.

I know that many of you will read this article and whilst there may be something which grabs your interest, you'll choose to keep swimming front crawl. Make it your mission this week, mix it up a little, I promise you'll come out of the pool much more tired than you normally do, which is NEVER a bad thing. Medley... Medley... Medley...

Marc Laithwaite
The Endurance Store Swim Club

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