Swim fin workouts: Dave Scott explains how they help your training, and key sessions

by Dave Scott (via 220triathlon.com)

Well, as any of you who swim in my groups know, I’m not a big fan of a bagful of swimming accessories! Too many athletes overuse pull buoys and floaty drag pants and other gizmos and they become crutches that prevent them from truly improving. However, the one piece of gear that I recommend for triathletes of all levels is fins!

Swimming with fins: what’s the difference between long and short fins?

A weak core often causes a weak kick.  When combined with very tight hips, weak gluteals, poor plantar flexion and a stiff back, a triathlete can definitely benefit from kicking drills. 

Also, when faced with the issues mentioned above, the freestyle kick provides neither propulsion nor stability. The legs end up with either too much knee flexion or a spaghetti-like wobble that create excess drag. Many triathletes exhibit a kick that resembles a pedalling action: they have a dramatic knee bend that creates huge drag by dropping the hips, quads, knees and feet too low.

Instead they should kick from the hips with a much straighter leg, with no more than 20° knee flexion. Maintaining this straighter-leg position requires increased mobility in hip extension and generally good plantar flexion. This is where training with fins can help.

When used properly, fins teach the conservation of energy and provide stability without lateral wiggling. The wide silhouette of fins can initially amplify the problems, which ultimately leads to effective corrections. Then, when the fins are removed, the neuromuscular pathways will feel enlightened and stimulated! 

When choosing a swimming fin, you want ones with adequate pliability, without being flimsy. Most triathletes don’t have very good plantar flexion, or good mobility in the hips and back, so a moderately flexible fin helps you establish good form and improves your flexibility over time. The ones I prefer are the Finis Edge fins.

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Monday Masters: Open Water Swim Training with Boulder Coach Grant Holicky

Photo Credit: Griffin Scott
Photo Credit: Griffin Scott

“The physical nature of the sport is so different and simply being touched is what many swimmers dislike as they come to open water.”

From Swim World Magazineby Robbie Dickson, Swimming World College Intern.

Grant Holicky, head coach of Rallysport Aquatics (RACE) in Boulder, Colorado, has been working with elite open water swimmers for several years now. Two of his most notable athletes are Joey Pedraza, who finished third in the 5k at the 2014 Nationals, and Christine Jennings, who has been to both World Championships and the Pan Pacific Championships for open water.

With all this success, plus the success that Coach Holicky has with his pool swimmers, you would assume that he has some of the best facilities in the country. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth, RallySport Aquatics practice in a six lane, hotel pool. Oh and it is outside the ENTIRE year. In Colorado. That makes for some very cold morning practices…

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