The sport of swimming requires a tremendous amount of endurance. From the block to the wall, it’s all about strength and getting maximum performance in the water. The hard part is building up and maintaining that strength.
Many coaches, like NC State Head Coach Braden Holloway, create specific exercises and drills designed to help their swimmers develop power and efficiency with every stroke and kick. Holloway in particular uses arena’s Elite Finger Paddles and the Powerfin Pro, among other training tools, to help his swimmers perfect strength and conditioning along with technique.
Holloway’s swimmers use the Elite Finger Paddles mostly during the beginning of swim season, particularly for front sculling drills. While keeping their arms out straight and bodies flat on the surface, swimmers will alternate sculling with each arm, moving into a freestyle catch position, and using an underwater recovery to bring the arm back out front. The small surface area of the finger paddle allows the hand to feel more water than it would while wearing a bigger hand paddle.
“I want them to feel that connection starting all the way from their fingertips,” says Holloway.
The challenge with finger paddles, according to Holloway, is that many swimmers have the tendency to bend at the knuckles when using them.
“The goal is that they keep that finger paddle straight and in-line with their palm when they do it.”
To build leg strength, NC State swimmers use the Powerfin Pro fins during many kick sets. Holloway says he likes the durability and stiffness of the fin.
“The Powerfin Pro is rigid. It doesn’t give a whole lot, so you’re really pressing your foot down in both directions to maximize generating strength,” he says. “With normal flimsy fins, you’re not developing nearly as much strength because they give so much.”
Holloway utilizes the fins during underwater kicking sets. Typically he will have swimmers start each length with six large, over-exaggerated dolphin kicks (fish kicks), focusing strictly on forcing the fins and legs up and down. Swimmers will then transition into six medium kicks, increasing the tempo but maintaining the pressure on the fins. Finally, swimmers will finish the length with six fast race kicks.
Holloway’s swimmers will also use the Powerfin Pro during one-leg kick drills. Each swimmer will swim a length, holding one leg in the air at a right angle. The other leg must compensate and kick quickly in order to keep the swimmer’s hips up.
To learn more about the Elite Finger Paddle, the Powerfin Pro, and arena’s full line of training tools and equipment, visit arenawaterinstinct.com.