2 Pull Drills for Faster Freestyle By Kevin Koskella • TriSwimCoachOnline.com

Try these swim drills to improve your stroke and help you get out of the water faster!
Swimming can be the most intimidating part of a triathlon especially when surrounded by others in the water.  Being confident in the water is a great way to get over this intimidation.  It just takes a little practice to become more comfortable.  Another way to be more confident in the water is to improve your swim technique.  Improving your technique can greatly improve your speed and help you get of the water sooner.  Try these drills to improve your freestyle stroke and have your best triathlon yet!

Are you a frustrated back-of-the-pack (BOP) or middle-of-the-pack (MOP) swimmer? No matter how many yards you swim or how many sprint sets you do, is it difficult to move up in your triathlon swim pack?

More speed drills, more yards, and even tighter intervals aren’t necessarily the answer. There is hope, but before building speed training into your swimming workouts, you should master your balance and technique. Speed work is futile if you do not have the right form.

You should be balanced front to back and side to side, meaning your lower half isn’t inclined to sink and your strokes are even on each arm. Try kicking on your sides if you need help getting balanced.


Once you’re balanced in the water, you’re ready for speed.

There are two big things you can do in the water that will help lead to a faster freestyle: They both involve working on your pull. Try these two pull drills during your next workout.

#1) High Elbows

Swim several hundred yards each session just concentrating on keeping high elbows through your pull. Here’s how it should feel:

  1. Slice your hand forward into the water. Be sure to keep it a bit to the outside of your middle line. Entering the water at the center point, by the top of your head, causes you to push against the oncoming water, making it more difficult to properly set up for the pull.
  2. Extend the arm forward as you rotate your hips, and as you breathe to the side.
  3. Bend your elbow as you begin the pull.
  4. Keep your pull to the outside. Again, you don’t want to pull back in the middle towards your chest. As opposed to the “S” motion, think of it as pulling around a barrel. Keep your elbow high and close to the surface.
  5. Push the water back behind you towards your feet at the end, coming to just about a complete extension before lifting your elbow out of the water for the next recovery cycle.

#2) Deck-Ups

Another drill that can help you understand the pull, as well as improve your strength for swimming, is deck-ups. Swim to the side of the pool and put your hands on the pool deck. Pull yourself out of the pool and extend your arms. Try doing a set of 5 to 10 of these. Then start swimming again and concentrate on your pull. It should feel similar to how it felt pulling yourself out of the water.

When doing your deck-ups, if you put your hands too close together it’s going to be very difficult. Move them a little past shoulder width, and you’ll have a lot more leverage.

Again, pull drills won’t help much if you don’t first hone your balance in the water.

But if you’re looking to move up in your pack, regroup and add high elbows and deck-ups to your workouts.

KONA Multisport has all the swim aides that you need to help improve your stroke, as well as, triathlon equipment, apparel, and nutrition to keep you going on your way to your best triathlon yet!


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