As the seasons change and the weather warms up and it’s light in the evenings, us ocean swimmers start to mix things up a bit. During the winter we’ve been focussing on endurance and strength (and practicing with challenging surf conditions), and that’s the prefect time for it. Now racing season is looming and it’s time to think about what we need to do to do well at the events.

That means the focus shifts to a couple of things:

  1. Technique. Worth revising to make sure we’re optimising power forward through the water, minimising drag against the water, and not injuring ourselves doing it.
  2. Speed. Or in other words, cardio vascular fitness.
  3. Ramp up = More sessions.

To that end, 4SEAsons have switched their Wednesday night sessions to technique night!

This is brilliant for me (this week, anyway)…as my technique is kinda, well, suboptimal. ahem.

Technique is one of those things where you have to aim for continual improvement, not perfection. It’s such a complicated thing you’re doing, using your whole body, and there’s really no single answer to the right way to swim. Different body types, different conditions, different habits, different strengths and weaknesses and injuries…it is really a lot of variables.

On Wednesday night we worked on a couple of drills designed to help with arms and timing. To help with this we used fins for the first time in ages, as they give you extra propulsion through the water and allow you to concentrate on slowing down your stroke to concentrate on different aspects of it, without feeling (all the time) like you’re going to drown.

I use these Speedo BioFUSE as they’re pretty inexpensive, fit in a backpack, and that’s what was in stock when I was shopping and they do exactly the job they need to do, exactly the way I want them to, so I’m pretty happy. (Not sure that fins could be life-changing, so don’t want to get too weirdly overly enthusiastic here).

You’ll note these are pretty different to diving or snorkelling fins. They’re a lot shorter, for a start, and quite rigid. This is because they’re designed for a distinctly different purpose. Dive\snorkelling fins are designed to give as much propulsion as possible with as little output of energy as possible (when diving, so you use less air and can stay down longer before your tank runs out). These fins are just designed to give you a little bit more than a regular kick…mostly to work on different aspects of your stroke, catch, or return.

They do have a slight down-side for some people (me included). Wearing fins does make you more susceptible to foot cramps. I’m not exactly sure why, but I know that I need to make sure I relax while swimming and stretch out well when the inevitable cramps hit. Not a biggie or a deal-breaker, given the benefits you can get from using fins in your drills, but something to be aware of.

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