Tri Guru does Drills

So there it is, Monday evening and what’s on the swim menu – drills! There’s something for everyone and there’s likely to be something special for you too, depending on where your area of improvement may be…..

I’m sure you already know that drills are really important. They break down the stroke into bite size chunks and provide us with the opportunity to think about what we’re doing especially when we isolate a certain part of the stroke such as the catch or kick. I can’t recommend them highly enough and it’s important that when you practice you’re practicing mindfully and well

Here’s a flavour of what we’ve been working on and why.

Hand Entry

Entering the water middle fingertip first – your elbow should be higher than your wrist, wrist higher than fingertips. Enter the water fingertips, wrist, elbow – in that order. Thumb first hand entry is really damaging for shoulders and should be avoided.

As the hand enters the water, palm downwards, the arm then extends forward keeping in line with the same shoulder. Think about being straight!

By entering the water in the correct position, this sets you up for a great catch and pull through.


  1. Doggy paddle

Great for helping you with ‘feel’ for the water and developing a good catch, this drill encourages you to have a bent elbow, which will make your propulsion through the water much more effective.

To isolate your arms, use a pull buoy, this will help you with buoyancy and enable you to keep your mind on the drill in hand. Emphasise the effect of reaching over a barrel by tipping your fingers over it, keeping your elbow high and pushing the water back behind you. Doggy paddle is in fact quite powerful when swum well!

  1. Sculling

There are a number of different sculling drills. We’ve been focussing on Swim Smooth’s Scull #1 drill to develop more ‘feel’ for the water. Soon your forearms will understand….or they’ll be worn out! This drill emphasises the first point of the catch and encourages you to press the water backwards rather than down.

Again, use a pull buoy so as not to gain assistance from your leg kick and to provide you with buoyancy. The palm of your hand should face slightly backwards and lead the scull as you press the water left and right keeping constant pressure on your palm from the water. Scull outwards to slightly wider than your shoulders and inwards to just inside shoulder width apart – but not touching. Keep your fingertips lower than your wrist and wrist lower than your elbow. Enjoy!

What else?

Body Position

Kicking on your side and making sure your hand is in the catch position (ask Alison how far off track you can wander if not!). This is great for posture and alignment in the water and helps those of us that have a habit of crossing over our centre line.

6-1-6 then builds on this introducing a stroke between the 6 kicks. This should allow you to focus on posture and alignment as you stroke to change to your other side. For some of you it will also present the challenge of maintaining your high elbow position during the stroke – avoid crossing over your mid line or dropping your elbow as you take the stroke and your hand enters the water. Staying straight is a good indication you’re getting this right. (If you’re wondering when to breathe, this should be immediately after you take the stroke – similar to full freestyle)


Pretty fundamental I’m sure you’ll agree. There’s lots of variation in what suits people depending on long standing styles, flexibility and personal preference. However, there’s one thing, if you can master bi-lateral breathing you will for definite swim straighter especially when you head out into open water. The next challenge for some of you will be to master breathing without lifting your head so high or rotating too far. Have a think about this next time you’re in the water and see if it applies to you.


Watch this space! Or come along on Monday evening ;-)