Recently I returned to using a center mount snorkel for part of my swim sessions in the pool. I forgot how much fun this is when air is always available & also realized that my stroke needs some tuning up. Typically I will start with it during warm up swimming 2-300 yards at an easy pace. Then, gradually building the distance on some shorter sets as I get used to flip turns again while not swallowing water coming back to the surface. I have also been incorporating into my cool downs to help me refocus on my technique before ending the training session. Here are some of the things I like about training with the center mount snorkel.
Swimming: First and foremost, it allows the athlete to focus on technique without having to turn the head to breathe. Often times, breathing strokes will cause a swimmer to become unbalanced in the water causing them to wiggle from side to side or worse yet, compromise body position with sinking hips, legs and feet. With the snorkel the swimmer is able to keep their head in a neutral position, working on good body alignment and balance in the stroke. Athletes with breath timing issues can learn to time their breathing without turning the head. A great drill for this is 4 x 25 rest :10 seconds with snorkel timing your exhale to the pulling arm you wish to breathe on. Then swim 1 x 50 without the snorkel breathing to pulling arm side you just practiced. Repeat 2-3 more times.
Kicking: With the snorkel, like swimming allows the athlete to maintain good body alignment and can reduce stress put on the lower back if kicking too much with a kickboard. Beginners can start with 4 x 25 flutter kicking rest :10-15 seconds. Arms stretched out overhead at shoulder width holding onto the bottom of a kickboard to help stabilize. Once this skill is acquired then try the 4 x 25 without the kickboard arms stretched out overhead at shoulder width or in a streamline position.
Drills: I like to do what I call a progression scull. This is where the athlete starts in the front scull position, arms stretched out in front at shoulder width 14-18 inches below the surface of the water. Start with some gentle sculling movements then gradually progress the scull through the freesytle pulling pattern until you reach the finish of your stroke. Like above 4 x 25 on 10-15 seconds rest will do and then swim 1 x 50. If done correctly, you should really feel a good connection with your hands to the water. Single arm swimming is also good with the snorkel as it allows the swimmer to coordinate hand/arm speed through the pull to their hip speed. Doing single arm pull with the non-pulling arm stretched out in front is a good way to start. I like this position as it allows the swimmer to feel a nice long body line from finger tips, through shoulder to hip. Also, since you don't have to breathe, you can pay attention to that lead arm when pulling to make sure it is not crossing center, the elbow is dropping or exhibiting other deviant behavior.
If you have not used a center mount snorkel before, I highly recommend giving it a try. Typical cost is between $30-$40. Be patient as you get used to breathing with the snorkel. Keep the repeats short so you can keep the technique focus at a premium.
Train Smart...Race Fast
The long days of summer are fading, but that does not mean your health and fitness needs to fade as well. There are plenty of things you can continue doing this fall and winter to maintain your summer fitness gains. In addition to sleep, two other things play an equally important role in maintaining optimal fitness and they are balanced nutrition and consistent exercise. Just imagine if we could do just those three things consistently how much better we would feel every day.
“ABC’s of optimal health and training”
A = Adequate sleep
B = Balanced nutrition
C = Consistent exercise
#1 Adequate Sleep – Our own personal energy level could be one of our most valuable resources and sleep plays a big role in this. With adequate sleep you have a much better chance of success with #2 and #3 below, so make it a priority. People have different sleep requirements, so the key is finding out what yours is and then doing your best to get those zzz’s. Some people do fine on 6-7 hours a night, others need 8+ and teenagers can never seem to get enough. Proper sleep allows our bodies to rejuvenate and recover from the day’s activities.
#2 Balanced Nutrition – Similar to sleep, everyone is going to have their own specific needs depending on age, level of activity or trying to lose, maintain or gain weight. A balanced diet of foods is fuel for optimal mental and physical energy. Here is a simple thing to do that just requires a little bit of discipline. Find out what you are really eating every day by keeping a food journal. Try the journal for three days and write down everything you eat & drink. This can be a big eye opener for a lot of people in terms of how much or little they are eating as well as the quality in food choices. Often times, just the act of keeping a food journal will help you make better food choices. From this you will have a better idea on what foods you may need to add to your diet as well as those that may need to be consumed in more moderation or eliminated to maintain healthy body composition and optimum energy levels.
#3 Consistent Exercise – The benefits of exercise are to numerous to list. There are so many great ways to get exercise especially living along the Front Range here in Colorado. I would encourage you to have a variety of activities to choose from. Variety is the spice of life and participating in different forms of exercise is a great way to cross train and help keep overuse injuries down. With the weather changing, you may need to take some of your exercise indoors, or just get some better gear to handle the cooler weather. Either way, you need to keep moving regardless of the temperature. Exercise is probably one of the best ways to change your mood. Think about it, when was the last time you finished a workout and felt depressed, or grumpy? Yes, you may be tired, but it is a good tired that in turn may help you with #1 above. Whether you exercise by yourself or with a group just be consistent in trying to get some movement each and every day.
We all have 24 hours each day, no more, no less. Make the choice to get adequate sleep each and every day. This combined with balanced nutrition and consistent exercise is a great recipe for maintaining optimal health, mind & body!
Train Smart...Race Fast