Head Up Swim Drill & Sighting

person in swimming goggles in water

With triathlon season now coming into full swing in the UK, and the Open Water challenge swims not far off, learning to swim effectively with head up is important. As any of my swimmers will tell you, its one of the few times I will tell them to look forward; if you’ve been following my posts over the last 8 months, you will know that by looking forward you force your hips down in the water and create more resistance. i.e. you make life harder for yourself!

Why Do It:

Swimming head up has several benefits:

  1. Resistance training – see the note above!
  2. Watching your entries into the water – fingertips first, minimal splash.
  3. Watch your engagement on the water – making sure your hands aren’t sliding back, that you are really getting maximum hold.
  4. Watching your hands come back close to the body without crossing your centre line – keeping you in a straight line.

By practising head up swimming, you can look to make your stroke as smooth and efficient as possible and an easy transition into sighting. As we all know, what we think and what we actually do with our swimming can be two completely different things. This is where video coaching comes in to show you what you are actually doing!

How To Do It:

1. Keep your chin on the surface, keep your eyes pointing forward, focus on the end of the lane, maybe a diving block or a sign.

2. Slide your hands into the water in front of your eyeline and stretch forward.

3. Engage on the water as we’ve mentioned and practised over the last few weeks – bend your elbow before squeezing back with your forearm all the way past your hips.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

Keeping your head still is key. You shouldn’t have to turn your head to the side at all to breathe, work your core and kick hard! If your head is moving 1, your shoulders (and therfore your body) will follow and 2, how will you know if you’re swimming straight in open water?!

Aim to slide your fingertips in first, flat. There are many different debates from coaches, or what swimmers have been told, but the easiest and simplest thing to do is slide your hand into the water flat. The reasoning behind this is that if your thumb goes into the water first, its far easier to slice your hand straight down than it is to get real pressure to squeeze against. If you are more controlled, have more awareness and strength/stability in your shoulders then you can look to put a slight angle into your hand, around 30°, but this isn’t a necessity for you.

You can change up how you use this drill. As with any drills, mixing in with full stroke is incredibly useful because you can really feel what you work on once you put everything together (hopefully!). It could be that you use a combination of 3 strokes head up, 3 strokes head down to simulate sighting. Or you could do full 25m/50m swims with your head out of the water for added resistance training, whatever works for you.

Enjoy, see what you think, let us know your feedback!

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

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