How to get back swimming after a time away from the pool

Swimming, January 06, 2023

I know some of you have made a goal to improve your swim in 2023 but you haven't been swimming and are unsure what is the best way to tackle the training. Don't worry I have some tips for you:

* Coach Kelli Montgomery showing here a perfect hand entry (hand below eye level)

I know some of you have made a goal to improve your swim in 2023 but you haven't been swimming and are unsure what is the best way to tackle the training. Don't worry I have some tips for you:

1. Don't get desperate

Very often athletes, at their first swim back, want to swim 2 or even 3,000yds but this is the biggest mistake you can make! Not only you're not fit enough to swim this distance and will be super fatigued after but more importantly you will be developing a wrong muscle memory! When you are fatigued and/ or away from swimming for too long, your technique is not there and the last thing you want to do is to "reinforce" bad technique.

2. Frequency, frequency, frequency....

As you know, swimming is a very skilled sport and like any skill based sport, repetition is necessary to perfect the movement. If you haven't been swimming, best approach is to implement frequency first, then as you get fit, you can increase volume. It's much better to swim more often a little than to swim less often a lot!

3. Don't swim long intervals

This is something I see athletes do a lot specially when they have long swim sessions (it goes by quicker they say) but it's another cause of holding back your technique improvement. If you swim intervals of 100,200, 400yds or more , it will be harder for you to maintain proper form and again you will be reinforcing bad technique due to fatigue. The ideal, when you are getting back in the pool, is to swim short intervals of only 25yds! I know this can "scare" some of you thinking you will not be getting any fitness from "broken" down sets but you are wrong! Not only you will get same fitness improvement, but you will also improve your technique because when repeating 25yds, you can rest more and more often and you can, during the rest, re-focus to execute a better technique.

4. One thing at the time

We all want to improve and swim faster and often we seek help with our stroke from coaches and/or friends. That's great and it can be of a big help but we need to be careful not to confuse our brain with too much information! If you want to improve something on your stroke, ask the coach or your friend to only give you ONE and most relevant "fix" you need. Then you will only practice that until you get it fixed! After, you can ask again for the second "thing" you need to focus and go on like this until you have it all fixed (or most of it :) )

5 . Be frustrated is ok

It's important to know that we WILL be frustrated! You are going to think that you forgot how to swim and that everything sucks! And that's normal! We all go through this, it does not matter what level of swimmer we are. Because we usually can't see ourselves swimming, perception in the water can be tricky and it will be hard to see/correct the stroke. That's when is helpful to ask a friend to film you so you can see better,

Don't give up though because slowly the combination of fitness and technique refinement will give you the feeling of swimming you had before. It can take a few weeks but it always come back and, if you follow the tips here, it will even improve!

What I recommend to my athletes

People always ask me what type of training I give my athletes going through the "comeback" and I bet it is a bit different than most coaches out there.

Especially, due to the mental impact it can cause, I ask my athletes to forget the distance they are swimming right now and to only swim by time. I will not ask them to swim more than 15 minutes at each time but to focus on "Perfect Strokes" and the rest is free so they can properly focus and not be fatigued.

If after swimming for 10 minutes the athlete feels tired and notice the quality of the movement going down, the athlete will stop! Doing so we will not be developing bad form and wrong muscle memory like I mentioned above.

Happy training and to a great season ahead!