Focal Point Swimming

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    Admin Mediterra
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    If you feel some tension between your need to maintain swimming fitness and your need to carefully integrate new skills that can’t quite hold up under regular training stress yet, you may wonder how to get the best of both, without losing too much from either.

    Early on in a season of acquiring new skills or in reformatting some big feature of your stroke, you may need to slow things down to get that new movement pattern etched into your nervous system. This may mean doing more drill and short stroke segments and short repeats for a while, until those skills feel more familiar, more easily performed and sustained under easy swimming conditions. Eventually, you may feel ready to start swimming longer, uninterrupted distances and your attention and control over technique will feel ready for it.

    However, you may already have a good foundation of skill built up and are just making some minor adjustments that are not so hard for you to stay focused upon under normal fitness training. Or, you may be starting a process of making big changes, yet you still feel the pressure to maintain more intense training while you try to integrate those new skills into it.

    Granted, it will be better (easier and shorter) in the long run if you can ‘slow down’ for some period of time to more carefully integrate your new skills under easier conditions that allow you to hold attention and form successfully. But you can still do whole stroke swimming with some or most of your new skills, if you choose just one or two focal points at a time and you hold yourself to a high standard with those.

    Use your drill and short-slow-and-careful stroke work in the first part of your practice and during active rest between fitness sets. Use this time to set a few, very specific focal points that you want to insert into your fitness work and maintain. This kind of intention and concentration will actually make your fitness work even more challenging! 

    Using the activities you’ve learned in your live lessons or in the videos, just take some time to tune up your sensitivity and control over a few particular parts of the stroke a drill, then move into whole stroke swimming holding just one or two focal points at a time. Within whatever normal swim set you are doing, choose a distance or duration in which you will hold your attention on that chosen focal point – this too will be like lifting weights, and you will notice attention fatigue.

    So, choose 2 or 3 focal points and rotate though them at regular intervals, while continuing to swim whole stroke. This is called ‘focal point swimming’. If at any time while swimming along you lose the feel, lose sensitivity, lose control, then you can stop for a moment to move into drill mode to regain that control, and then resume the set.

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