Drills Common to All StrokesDistance Per Stroke (DPS)
Swimming all strokes getting maximum distance per stroke. With free and back, emphasize a long body line, hip and shoulder rotation, minimizing resistance. With breast and fly, keep the body line long in the front of your stroke. Steady the rhythm, and swim in the front quadrant of all strokes.
Swimming with hands completely in a fist. No "karate-chop" hands allowed! Concentrate on body position, using your forearm in the catch and optimum elbow bend through the stroke. When you return to swimming with an open palm, your hands will feel as large as kickboards! Have fun and think Distance Per Stroke!
Sculling is performed by sweeping your hands through the water, holding your elbows still. Your hands are acting like propeller blades, and subtle changes in hand pitch and speed will change your body position and speed. There is no recovery motion. When you are treading water, you are sculling your hands through the water to hold yourself up and counteract gravity. To propel yourself down the pool, simply change your hand and forearm angle to be perpendicular to the pool bottom and parallel with the pool walls. Keep your elbows high at the surface of the water, and sweep your hands underneath (this is known as the "windshield wiper" drill). Note that your swimming strokes are a combination of sculling motions that allow you to hold the water as your large body core muscles act as the engine.
For freestyle, kick on your side with your bottom arm (the one closer to the bottom of the pool) extended straight out of your shoulder line before your head. Keep your palm facing down and your extended hand about 8 inches under water. The top arm (the one on the surface of the water) should be relaxed at your side with your had on your hip and out of the water. Maintain a head position as though you were swimming freestyle, with your head in line with your spine. Press your arm pit toward the pool bottom to get your hip at the surface of the water. Your extended arm should feel weightless.
For backstroke, kick on your side as described above with your head facing up in the position for backstroke. You may also kick in a streamlined position with both hands over your head.
Breaststrokers, kick only with a soft kickboard that will allow you to maintain a good body position for breaststroke. Without a board, keep your hands extended, at your side. Try to maintain the same "dolphining" undulation when you kick as you should ave when swimming the full stroke. You may also do breaststroke kick on your back.
Butterflyers, go for it either on your side, on your back, or in butterfly position. Kick from the hips and torso. This is a great "ab" workout.
While swimming 50's repeats, calculate your "score" for each 50 by counting your strokes in both directions (one arm equals one stroke) and adding it to your time. For example: If you swim 50 freestyle with 20 strokes per 25 in a time of :40, you would have a score of 80 (20 + 20 + 40). Descend your score by taking less strokes and/or completing the 50 in less seconds with each successive 50.
These drills and more can be found on the Mountain View Masters Swim and Social Club website
Add equipment to your drills to help improve your work out.
Kickboards allow you to continue swimming while giving your upper body a rest. They provide a good workout for your legs but give you a break while allowing you to continue your swim.
Hand Paddles allow you to isolate and work more on the back, chest and arm muscles. They also give a swimmer the feel for speed in the water and an idea of what to strive to recreate on their own.
Pull Buoys take a lot of strain off of your legs and allow you to practice extending your breathing patterns.