When planning to go to the pool for your swim keep this in mind: what you do for your swim practice does not need to be complicated, keep it simple. Think about one intention and one goal for the swim. An intention is internal, not visible, personal, and not measurable. A goal is external, visible, not personal, and measurable. I suggest one of each because It’s easy to think about a boat load of skills to work on when planning this out, but save your bandwidth for your one intention and your one goal. Keep a laser focus.
An example of an intention is “feel loose before during and after the swim”. It’s personal, internal, not measurable. Now ask yourself how are going to do this, think this out. How or what do you need to do to stay loose? What do you do create looseness? An example would be, “when I stop at the wall, take a few deep breathes, lift the shoulders on the inhale, let them melt on the exhale.” This tightening then releasing may help you sense muscles turned so you can then be aware of how to turn them off to create looseness. So, once you have thought about what you want to experience consider what steps you may need to take to get you there.
One example of a goal might be to count your strokes holding the same number of strokes at the end as you did in the beginning of the swim. Or, another example is to start each length with a drill such as “superman” to align head and spine before transitioning into stroking. After you decide what your goal is, continue with this one thought throughout the swim to see what you may learn or teach yourself when giving it laser like focus.
Once you have a goal and intention set, you can also keep the sets simple. The set does not have to be complicated nor does it have to be long. You will want to refer back to your goal and intention as you design it. Whatever you choose to do will be around being successful with your goal and intention by the end of the swim.
It may be challenging to mentally stay focused and committed to your plan as your mind may want to wander to other aspects of the stroke like is my elbow bent on recovery or am I holding a patient lead arm or a neighboring swimmer distracts you. This is why it’s helpful to have a goal and intention to come back to as the mind may wander or you may feel overwhelmed that there is so much you want to learn. But with one of each you keep it simple so you have time to really get in there and get the feel of it. When you jump from skill to skill you don’t really notice the finer points because you’ve moved on before you got to that place.
I personally have limited pool time so I often do something like the following: 4×25, 4×50, 4×75, 4×100, 4×125 or 15×100, or 3×500, a simple way to reach 1500 yards. Depending on your current swim level this can seem very long or hardly worth getting wet! But I find when I narrow it down to one goal and one intention, I feel accomplished with the time I had, and the energy I invested was well spent. It’s not about quantity it’s about quality. Time well spent in the water, no matter how short, is invaluable when you have a plan.