Our resident Olympian answers your swimming questions
What are your favourite drills for improving balance and symmetry in your stroke?
I regularly get asked what drills are best to include in your training. Although drills are a very important part of swimming training, it is vital to ensure that they are done with precision as they can have a hugely detrimental effect on technique otherwise.
When you talk about symmetry, there are several different elements that constitute a symmetrical stroke: rotation, hand entry and recovery.
Let’s start with rotation. My top drill for this is single arm front crawl, where the other arm is placed by the body. Your aim is to maintain equal body rotation throughout the drill. If you have a forward snorkel I would recommend using it; if not, breathe to whichever side feels the most comfortable.
Another great drill is the ‘six kicks, one pull’ drill. It is exactly what it says on the tin. This drill helps to gain control over your core and also improves rotation.
Finally, a great drill for improving the underwater phase is sculling. It assists in getting the feel for the water as well as improving the high elbow technique. Sculling uses figure-of-eight hand movements to allow you to stay afloat in a horizontal position: place your arms directly out in front of you, elbows slightly bent with palms facing downwards. Move your hands in a figure-of-eight motion. Keep your body horizontal and as straight as possible (use a pullbuoy if your legs start sinking). To propel yourself forwards, tilt your forearms and palms backwards towards your body.
‘The Race Club’ on YouTube is also a great source of expert tutorials on different drills.
“Swimming was my whole life for over 20 years. I poured every ounce of enthusiasm into it. I am so fortunate to have found these new outlets for that enthusiasm.”
Cassie Patten won bronze in the first ever Olympic 10km marathon swim, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Cassie now coaches and is a frequent commentator at open water events. cassiepatten.co.uk