Elaine: All Things Tri

Yikes! Race Day Nerves

posted May 16, 2017, 1:20 PM by Elaine Vescio

Having dreams about weird stuff happening to you in an upcoming race? Starting to think that signing up for that big event wasn't such a great idea? You are not alone. When that far off, challenging event is no longer that far off, it's normal to feel some nervousness. A little bit of jitters and excitement are good; excessive worrying wastes energy and detracts from the positive aspects of your race experience. 

I am going to discuss two specific and complementary approaches that you can use to manage race day nerves. The first approach focuses on expanding your Circle of Influence; the second approach addresses training your brain. 

Approach #1--Expanding Your Circle of Influence

Image result for covey circle of influenceTwo decades have passed since I attended a Stephen Covey Leadership Workshop at the Silicon Valley start up where I worked. However, I continue to apply the principles taught at that two day workshop in many aspects of my life, including racing. 

Covey teaches that the problems, challenges, and opportunities we encounter in life fall into two categories: (1) Circle of Concern which encompasses things over which we have little or no control
(2) Circle of Influence which encompasses things we can do something about. 

Covey's thesis is that by finding ways to impact what's happening in our lives, we can expand our Circle of Influence, and as a result, reduce our Circle of Concern. 

Here's how to apply this Circle of Influence concept to managing your race day nerves: 
  1. List what is making you nervous. Just write it down, no matter how stupid it sounds. Don't edit as you are writing; just write, write, write without judgement. This gets the "stuff" out of your head where it is swirling around, and onto paper or a computer screen. 
  2. Put the list away for at least 24 hours. You can add to it during that time, but don't edit it. No matter how ridiculous some of the nerve creating items sound. 
  3. After 24 hours, group the stuff that is making you nervous into the categories listed above: Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. 
  4. For the ones that appear to be out of your control, i.e. the weather, who shows up to race in your category, getting a flat, getting your goggles knocked off during the swim, it's useful to try to figure out what you can do to minimize the negative impact of those items, in other words, expand your Circle of Influence. Some tangible things that you could do include bringing a variety of clothing to the race if the weather is questionable or practice changing a flat in the comfort of your home. When you expand expand your Circle of Influence, you reduce the size of your Circle of Concern. You won't totally eliminate your Circle of Concern as there are just some things that you have no control over. So acknowledge that, and focus your energy on the things that you can influence. 
  5. For items on the list that are within your control (within your Circle of Influence), think about what you have been doing to develop these, and what else you could be doing to expand your Circle of Influence for race day. 

Approach #2--Training Your Brain
Many athletes spend weeks, months, or even years preparing for the physical demands of racing triathlon, and completely ignore the mental aspects of the sport. No wonder the brain starts worrying as race day approaches; it's feeling totally unprepared for the task that looms. Like the body, the brain can be trained. So, train it because a little mental preparation can go a long way. Here are three steps to take: 
  1. Work on skills to help calm your nerves. Deep breathing exercises can work wonders, and you can use it on race morning to control the physiological responses triggered by nerves--increased heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.  
  2. Come up with a mantra for how you want to view yourself. People who attend my beginner triathlete seminars and open water swim clinics usually learn about my mantra, "I'm a strong, confident swimmer". That simple phrase transformed my view of and experience in the open water segment of triathlons. Come up with a mantra that changes how you view yourself in an area where you feel less than adequate or vulnerable. 
  3. Remind yourself how blessed you are to be able to have the social, financial, and physical abilities to participate in this sport. Most people don't have this opportunity! So try to get those feelings of gratitude to supersede feelings of performance anxiety, mechanical problems, or inclement weather. 
Remember, a little bit of race day jitters is fine; it gets you revved to perform. Too much, however, can detract from your performance and your enjoyment of the sport. Incorporate into your preparation techniques to expand your Circle of Influence and to train your brain. It's within your control. 

A Technique Tip for Each Triathlon Discipline

posted May 2, 2017, 12:19 PM by Elaine Vescio

Experienced triathletes make the sport look rather graceful—virtually gliding across the water, smoothly powering along the bike route, and looking perky while doing the run. How do they do that? How can I be more like that? 

Surely, good fitness from consistent training helps, but so does a deliberate effort to improve technique. To help you on your path to become a more competent triathlete, this article includes one technique tip for each of triathlon's disciplines. 

Swim Tip: Proper Head Position

For swimming, body position in the water is essential to minimize drag. Your body is a chain beginning with your head and extending to your toes. Therefore, your body position in the water begins with your head. If your head tilts up, your legs drop down to balance your chain. The result? Unnecessary drag. To avoid this, focus on looking downwards when your face is in the water. (Note that your chin should not be tucked in). Relax your neck so your face is floating in the water with the water line hitting at the top third of your head. Sounds weird, but it lessens the tendency to try to hold your head up. Looking downwards leads to your hips and legs being positioned higher in the water, resulting in less drag. 

The next time you are in the pool, experiment with different head positions—looking straight down at the bottom of the pool, looking a little bit forward so that you are looking for the crossbars at the end of the black line on the pool’s bottom, and looking up towards the wall. Gently kick while doing this experiment and feel where your legs tend to be with each position. Most people find that looking for the crossbars at the end of the black line leads to the best body position.

Cycling Tip: Use Your Gears

For cycling, proper gear selection helps you ride more efficiently. Sometimes newer cyclists keep their bikes in the easier gears thinking that the lower amount of resistance makes it easier to navigate the bike course. Not true. Using too little resistance means each pedal stroke only takes you a very short distance. So you have to pedal a lot more times to get around the course than if you use slightly bigger gears.  Plus really easy gears tend to make you breathless. On the other hand, slogging around in too big of a gear is not efficient either. While you may cover more distance with each pedal stroke, your slower cadence (how often your pedal makes a complete circle) could translate into a slower speed. And really big gears tend to use more muscular strength which can tire your legs faster, leading to a slower pace in the latter part of the bike course and very tired legs for the run. 

Many experienced cyclists will tell you what your cadence should be. Smile. Nod your head in understanding. And then ignore their advice. Ideal cadence is  individualized. It is dependent on genetics, training, and terrain. So rather than shoot for a specific cadence number, assess how you are feeling. If you are getting breathless and your cadence is high, put the bike in a bigger gear and slow your cadence. This lessens your reliance on your cardio respiratory system, and increases your use of muscular strength. On the other hand, if your cadence is slow and your legs are burning, put your bike into an easier gear and increase your cadence. This offloads some of the work from your leg muscles to your cardio respiratory system. With practice, you will find yourself intuitively shifting and changing your cadence in response to how you are feeling. 

Running Tip: Quick Leg Turnover

For running, quick leg turnover is key. A slight improvement in run cadence can translate into more efficient running, improved speed, and decreased risk of injury. Efficient runners tap the ground with their foot, usually towards the midfoot, and immediately lift it up; inefficient runners touch the ground, often with their heel, then roll forward on the foot before lifting the foot back up. Think in terms of golf ball versus tennis ball. A golf ball hits the ground and immediately shoots back up; a tennis ball hits the ground, compresses, and then goes up but not as far or fast as a golf ball because so much energy was lost when compressing on the ground. As you train with running, gradually become more golf ball like which translates into a faster cadence. .  

Does Swimming Take Your Breath Away?

posted May 2, 2017, 9:37 AM by Elaine Vescio

Image result for breathe

Don't despair if you find yourself huffing and puffing after one or two laps in the pool, Breathlessness is a common complaint from people who are new to swim training.  Here are two specific things you can work on if swimming takes your breath away: (1) Breathe; (2) Use the water to support your body. 

#1. Breathe!

Ok. I know that sounds facetious, but does this sound like you when swimming? 

Take a breath--> hold in that air while you put your face in the water to swim a few strokes --> lift your face out of the water to exhale and quickly inhale --> put your face back into the water and hold in that air, and then repeat the cycle until you are clutching the side of the pool gasping for air and cursing whoever convinced you to sign up for a triathlon?  

Even at rest, repeatedly holding your breath will result in breathlessness; doing it while swimming will hasten and exacerbate the breathlessness. 

Here's the fix....

Gradually exhale when your face is in the water --> roll your torso like a log towards your side as you inhale --> roll back and gradually exhale into the water. You should see bubbles as you exhale into the water. 

You don't hold your breathe while cycling or running, rather you coordinate it with your movements. Do the same when swimming. 

#2 Use the Water to Support Your Body

You are buoyant; we all are. However, instead of using your wonderful buoyancy to your advantage, you may be frantically moving your arms and legs to stay afloat when swimming. This wastes a lot of energy leading to an increase in your respiratory rate without a corresponding boost in swim pace. 

The "balance drill" is a simple drill to help you learn to use the water to support your body. Lie flat on your belly with your face in the water and your arms and hands against the sides of your body. Kick gently and focus on pressing your chest against the water so that you are leaning on your chest. This should bring your feet up so that your gentle kicking is propelling you forward not keeping your lower body afloat. Feel the balance and note how the water supports your body. Remember to exhale into the water.

Incorporate the "balance drill" into your swim workouts. Then try to feel the balance as you swim freestyle following the drill. Here’s an example of how to incorporate this drill into your swim workouts.

Day One—After warming up, include 6 x 25 yards (25 yards = one length of most health club pools) doing the "balance drill". Rest for 15 seconds after each 25. After the last 25, do the rest of your regular swim workout.

Day Two-After warming up, include 4 x 50 yards doing the "balance drill" for the first 25 and freestyle for the second 25. Feel the balance during the freestyle. Rest for 20 seconds after each 50. After the last 50, do the rest of your regular swim workout.

Day Three—After warming up, include 3 x 100 yards doing the "balance drill" for the first 25 and freestyle for the next 75. Feel the balance during the freestyle. Rest for 30 seconds after each 100. After the last 100, do the rest of your regular swim workout.

Exhaling into the water and using the water to support your body are two things that can help you breathe easier when it comes to swimming.


Planning Your Triathlon Training...Right!

posted Jan 12, 2017, 12:36 PM by Donald Vescio   [ updated Mar 10, 2017, 8:40 AM by Elaine Vescio ]

Thinking about triathlon training? This presentation will combine the science of triathlon training with the reality of making it happen with busy schedules, demanding jobs, and other responsibilities.
  • Click on the image below to view the full presentation. You
    Also can download a copy of the presentation as a PDF.


Polarized Training for Cycling in the Winter

posted Dec 28, 2016, 3:53 PM by Elaine Vescio   [ updated Dec 28, 2016, 4:44 PM ]

Plenty of reliable research underscores the effectiveness of polarized training for all triathletes. This includes those training for a sprint triathlon, an IRONMAN, or anything in between. So how should a triathlete include polarized training in winter cycling workouts?  

First of all, polarized training is the fancy term given to the type of training that Vmps has always advocated: Do the hard workouts at a strong intensity, easy workouts at a light intensity; and avoid moderate intensity training. And winter is the best time to train the fundamentals for cycling--strength endurance, economy skills, and endurance--which incorporate nicely into polarized training. 

Strength Endurance Cycling Workouts
In the winter months, the strong intensity workouts are used to develop the strength endurance abilities needed by a cyclist. Strength endurance is the toughest cycling ability to build and maintain, and is critical to the development of a cyclist (especially those over the age of 30). This is why Vmps puts a significant emphasis on making sure our athletes develop the strength endurance capability. (Note that the primary way to develop it is on the bike, not in the weight room). 

Building strength endurance requires emphasizing two areas: (1) the force or the push on the pedals, especially during the 12 o'clock to 2 o'clock position in the pedal stroke; and (2) torque which rotates the crank around. Research has shown that the most effective way to build strength endurance is through high force, low cadence intervals, preferably completed in two weekly workouts. Any additional cycling workouts should be done at a light intensity, endurance pace. Most athletes do the stronger intensity interval workouts during the week, and a light intensity longer ride on the weekend. (That's an example of polarized training). 

Most of our clients begin their strength endurance cycling training in November. The first strength endurance interval workout of the week consists of shorter intervals (6 minutes to 8 minutes in length) with a cadence of 60 to 65 RPMs, and a rest interval that last about 60% of the interval time. The second interval workout of the week consists of fewer, but longer intervals with a similar low cadence. As the training progresses, the training stress is gradually increased by lengthening the duration of the intervals or shortening the recovery between them. In January, the high force intervals are longer in duration than in the previous two months, and the cadence is in the 70 to 75 RPM range. The higher cadence offloads some of the training stress from the working muscles to the cardiovascular system, but continues the development of strength endurance. 

Cycling Economy Skills
The high force intervals are an optimal time to work on cycling economy skills such as proper pedaling mechanics, and micro rests. Proper pedaling mechanics can be emphasized with the 'stomp and un-weight' focus. Stomp and un-weight is a simplified mantra to address the misconception that cyclists should pedal in circles. Studies have shown that the fastest cyclists do not pedal in circles. Rather, the fastest cyclists are able to put a significant amount of force into the 12 o'clock to 2 o clock phase of the pedal strokes, and then quickly un-weight the foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke. This 'un-weight' ability decreases the amount of time to get back to 12 o'clock, the point in the pedal stroke where the most force can be exerted. Emphasizing 'stomp and un-weight' during high force intervals helps to imprint this more effective pedal stroke into cycling. Also, one legged drills where you lighten one foot from the pedal, while focusing on pedaling with the other leg for one minute intervals, emphasizes the 'stomp and un-weight' rhythm. 

The other economy skill helps a cyclist obtain micro rests while working on the bike. Slight changes in where a cyclist is sitting on the saddle during work intervals promotes micro recoveries for the working muscles. Shifting back on the saddle engages the rider's glutes more, while moving forward towards the nose of the saddle favors the quadriceps. Practicing these slight body position shifts during the foundation training helps them become second nature during the race season. 

Endurance is the easiest fundamental to establish or get back. Furthermore, each year of endurance training is added into your endurance bank, and is already there when you go to establish your endurance base for a new race season. In short, with each additional year of training, it takes less work to establish an endurance base. 

At Vmps, during the foundation phase for cycling, our athletes work on endurance during longer, conversation paced rides on the weekends. We emphasize keeping these rides on the lower end of a perceived exertion scale so that the rides don't hinder the athletes' recovery from the week day interval sessions. A common mistake, especially if these rides are done with others, is to go at a tempo pace. The problem with a tempo pace during endurance rides this time of year is that the tempo pace is not the most effective pace for promoting the enzymatic, cellular, and metabolic changes that improve aerobic endurance, and it creates fatigue which then detracts from the harder mid week interval sessions. 

So this winter, plan to incorporate polarized training and working on cycling fundamentals into your workouts. It's structured, fun, and proven to work. 

Take a Much Deserved Break

posted Sep 16, 2016, 3:52 AM by Elaine Vescio   [ updated Sep 30, 2018, 9:12 AM ]

Athletes have a penchant for striving. As one race season winds down, we start looking to the next season--almost with a vengeance. Determined to fix what we believe we should have done better. Setting new and loftier goals. Chomping at the bit. But I say, 'Wait! Before you embark on your next quest, take a much deserved break'. 

Most athletes are terrified of taking a break. They are afraid of losing hard earned fitness. Of others gaining an advantage. Of navigating days not built around getting in workouts. Don't worry; you will be fine. 

Structured training puts a tremendous stress on our body and mind. Stress is good; it allows us to get stronger when we allow adaptation and recovery (physically and mentally) to occur. During the season, we do this by incorporating recovery weeks into our schedule, and short periods of rest following an important event. However, these recovery weeks and short breaks are not enough to unload the training stress that accumulates over many months of training. Rather, multiple consecutive weeks of significantly reduced training and a change up to the routine are required. 

If your A races are done for this season, then look to October as the month to recharge those batteries. You can still be physically active, but keep it unstructured. Add in something new like cycle cross, trail running, or yoga. Maybe even put the Garmin in a drawer. Gasp! The goal (you love goals, right?) is to take that much deserved break. You earned it. 

Losing the Wetsuit as Your Binky

posted Aug 2, 2016, 4:40 PM by Elaine Vescio

A wetsuit is wonderful. It keeps you warm in chilly water; provides buoyancy to counteract a less than optimal body position;  and reduces drag to allow your body to glide through the water more efficiently. Plus, it puts a layer of neoprene between your body and the icky stuff in the open water. In New England, donning a wetsuit has become as much of a part of the triathlon pre race ritual as putting air in your tires. So, it’s not surprising that a triathlete might come to rely on a wetsuit to feel safer and more secure in the triathlon swim. And I mean REALLY rely on a wetsuit. A few days ago when I suggested that an experienced IRONMAN triathlete do an open water swim without a wetsuit, the response was an unequivocal: ‘No. My wetsuit is my binky’.

This year, warm lakes and rivers are causing that binky to be snatched away on race day by race directors at some area events because USA Triathlon rules state:

Age group participants may wear wetsuits but will not be eligible for awards if the water temperature is 78.1 to 83.9 degrees.

Age group participants may not wear wetsuits in water with temperatures equal to or greater than 84 degrees.

In the first scenario, many age group participants opt to wear a wetsuit and not be eligible for awards. This means starting in the last swim wave, and risking overheating during the swim or while waiting for the later swim start. In the second scenario, some folks choose not to race. Despite months of training and preparation, they skip the race to avoid doing an open water swim without a wetsuit.

It does not need to be this way. A person who swims in a pool without a wetsuit has the skill and physical ability to swim in the open water without a wetsuit. That person needs to know at an emotional level that the wetsuit is not needed. (Reason does not work in this situation as was evident in my client's binky response).

So what’s a triathlete to do when the prospect of losing the binky looms?

  1. Complete some open water swims without a wetsuit in the weeks leading up to the race. This practice serves as a clear indicator that you know how to swim without a wetsuit. The bonus is that you learn that it feels awesome not to be jammed into a hot, sticky neoprene suit on a warm summer day.

  2. Change your view of a non-wetsuit legal event from a horrible obstacle being thrown at you, to a welcome opportunity for a more enjoyable swim--more natural feel to swimming, less risk of overheating, and less time and energy wasted putting on and taking off the wetsuit.

  3. Invest in a swimskin if you have several races scheduled in the warmers waters. A swimskin is a light suit that reduces drag, but does not provide buoyancy. It's worn over your trisuit during the swim.

As the temperature of the local waters continue to tick upwards, lose that binky, and experience the benefits of entering the water unencumbered by previous beliefs.

Long Course Triathlon

posted Jan 29, 2016, 6:55 AM by Donald Vescio   [ updated Jan 29, 2016, 7:27 AM by Elaine Vescio ]

The first in a series of seminars on preparing for 70.3 and Ironman distance events, Long Course Triathlon Training for the First Timer helps triathletes know what to do 5+ months out from their long course event. Athletes learn the importance of embracing the 'Four Pillars of Performance' equally; are guided on setting season goals and supporting monthly objectives; and become informed on how to outline a long course training plan that is specific to them.

Long Course Training 2016-rev1.pdf
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Take Charge of Your Triathlon Swim

posted Jun 23, 2015, 8:26 AM by Elaine Vescio

As triathletes, we have our excuses. Excuses for missing workouts; excuses for not doing strength and conditioning exercises; and arguably the most popular--excuses for not performing well in the swim segment of triathlon. While I have experience with these excuses as a coach (and a competitor), the focus of this article is on getting rid of the need for excuses for not performing well in a triathlon swim. 

Yes, the triathlon swim is tough, especially for people who do not come from a strong swimming background. But you didn't choose this sport because it is easy, right? Most likely, you chose this sport because of its challenges, and the opportunities it presents for you to learn and grow as an athlete. So let's look at the various 'obstacles' presented by swimming, and figure a way through them. 

1. Swimming is Time Consuming. 
On the surface, I agree. You gotta pack your bags and get to the pool during lap swimming or scheduled group workouts, or you need to meet others at the lake at a designated time. Fitting in swim workouts seems burdensome. Triathletes, however, have an uncanny ability to 'squeeze' in mega mile bike rides and very long runs, or to analyze reams of data from their latest tracking gadgets and provide updates about it on social media, but they can't consistently fit in their swim workouts. Therefore, the problem isn't necessarily time constraints; it's more a matter of not getting the same feelings of accomplishment from a swim workout as one gets from other aspects of the sport. In other words, priorities. We tend to prioritize what gives us satisfaction over what makes us feel inadequate. And lumbering away in the pool without seeing progress can make even triathletes with the best of intentions feel demoralized. 

Setting the stage for feeling accomplished with your swim training can be done by setting a few measurable objectives each month related to a glaring weakness in your swimming or swim training, and tracking your progress towards these objectives. If consistency in training is a problem, an objective can be as simple as, 'To get in one pool swim workout and one open water swim each week'. If lack of progress in improving swim technique is a limiter, then an objective along the lines of, 'To include a 400 yard drill set that related to the high elbow catch' in each pool swim workout. If lack of progress in muscular endurance is a limiter, then an objective might look like, 'To attend a weekly Masters swim workout'. The goal isn't to fix everything at once, but rather to monitor progress in your swim training, which in time, should result in improvements in your swim fitness. 

2. My Swimming Doesn't Get Better
Improving your swimming requires patience (lots of patience), and a willingness to leave your comfort zone. Patience, because it's going to take time to master good technique, and develop the strength to swim strong. The willingness to leave your comfort zone is crucial because that's where growth occurs. Leaving your comfort zone means attending swim workouts with people who are a lot faster than you. It includes using swim drills to emphasize aspects of good swim technique, and then immediately doing swim sets to incorporate that technique into actual swimming. Finally, it means doing swim sets that vary in speed, including really hard sets with teeny bits of rest. These sets take you out of your comfort zone, way out, but lead to tremendous gains in swim fitness, ability, and confidence. 

3. Feel Nervous During a Triathlon Swim
Many people feel anxiety at some time during an open water swim. It's the brain warning that what we are doing is risky--we get breathless, nervous, our heart rate picks up. The innate 'fight of flight' response kicks in. Preparing your brain ahead of time is the best way to ward off anxiety during a triathlon swim. Teach your brain how you want to view yourself as an open water swimmer. Strong? Confident? Sassy? If you don't teach your brain, it will choose something (weak, unprepared, incompetent), and most likely it won't be something you like. Once you decide on how you want to be viewed as an open water swimmer, come up with a mantra that will teach your brain that view of you. And then reinforce that by repeating that mantra every day, several times a day. Your brain will have no choice but to believe it. (My brain thinks I am 'a strong, confident swimmer'). 

Mastering skills specific to the open water--swimming straight, navigating buoys, and dealing with anxiety--help mitigate nervousness during an open water swim. These areas are covered in my blog article, 'Open Water Swimming: Fun and Exhilarating vs Dark and Scary'. 

In summary, don't rely on excuses for the results you get in your triathlon swims. Rather take charge of your triathlon swim. 

Wondering Why You Swim Faster with a Pull Buoy

posted Mar 18, 2015, 8:29 AM by Elaine Vescio

It's fairly common for some people to swim faster with a pull buoy than without. Since pull buoys are not allowed in triathlons, it's a good idea to fix what is causing you to swim slower without the pull buoy. Seems like a smart way to get faster swim splits at races. 

Here are five things to consider when trying to figure out how to fix this. 

1. Lifting your head when breathing causes your legs to drop. 
Just a little lift of your head triggers a corresponding big drop at the other end of your body.A pull buoy reduces how much your legs would drop in reaction to the head lifting when breathing, so it reduces the drag created by this problem in your swim technique. Trust that the water will support your head, and make sure the air from your lungs is exhaled into the pool as you are rotating to take the breath (versus completing the exhale when your face is out of the water). These two little steps can help you avoid lifting your head when breathing.  

2. Poor core control makes it difficult for your body to be in the correct, streamline position. 
Squeezing a pull buoy between your thighs helps to engage the core without your thinking about it. Get that taut body without the help of holding a pull buoy. When you push off from the wall seek a tight streamline position, and maintain that taut, yet relaxed body control while swimming. Play around with this tautness feeling when doing side kicking drills. Go from ridiculously stiff to loose like a noodle. Eventually find that taut, relaxed feeling, and own it. An added benefit is a nice streamline off the wall works your core. So you are getting in some core exercise while becoming a better swimmer. A two-fer!

3. Wide legs when kicking creates drag and throws your body position off. 
Think 'swimming in a coffin' or a tube if the whole coffin thing freaks you out. 

4. Kicking with your feet flexed acts like a brake. 
During the down kick, the pressure of the water should be able to move your foot into a streamline position with the toe eventually pointed. This doesn't happen with tight ankles so do some stretches to loosen your ankles. (This tends to be a common problem with people who come to swimming from a running background). 

5. Proper kick timing helps your body rotate. 
Whether you are using a 2, 4, or 6 beat kick, the key to good timing is that when your hand enters the water to initiate the stroke,your opposite leg should kick. With a 2 beat kick, that's the only kick. With a 4 or 6 beat kick, there are other kicks in between, but the most important one for timing is the one when your opposite hand is entering the water. The Monkey Swim Drill (one arm swim with the other hand on a kickboard) is a good drill to exaggerate the extension of your leading arm from the scapular as the opposite leg kicks. Most people's kick timing tends to be ok, just not emphasized enough to give a lot of umph to the body rotation. 

Working on these items in the coming weeks can help you become a faster swimmer. The second one, which focuses on good core control, should be done at every workout and every time you push off the wall. Then choose two of the other items to work on at each workout for the next month and see what happens!

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