Posted in Triathlon

Whether you are a seasoned swimmer, taking the plunge into triathlon or are a year-round open water swimmer, practising swim drills will help you to swim further and faster. Focusing on specific movements in the water will help you to become more efficient.

We asked British Triathlete and 2XU Ambassador Non Stanford to share her top swim drills. From body position, arm movement and technique when wearing a wetsuit - there are plenty of things to work on and add to your next swim session. 


Swim Drill #1 - Arm Up Side Kick

The aim of this drill is to improve your body position in the water, hip led rotation and your high arm swing over the water. 

  1. On your side extend the bottom arm out in front, palm facing down to the pool floor.
  2. Point your other arm up to the sky, trying to keep a relaxed wrist.
  3. Keep your body as long and straight as you can, and try to limit knee bend when kicking.
  4. Aim for 5-10 kicks on one side then take 3 strokes to swap to the other side and repeat.

Swim Drill #2 - Doggie Paddle 

The aim of the Doggie Paddle drill is to improve your underwater catch (initial phase of your freestyle stroke) and the feel for the water to gain traction. 

  1. Lying on your front, begin with the underwater phase of the stroke. When you reach the backend, instead of lifting your arm out of the water, return it to the front, whilst your other arm performs the underwater phase.
  2. Key points to focus on are a good elbow bend (around 110') so that your wrist is in line with your shoulder beneath you. Try to not pull too wide, or too narrow by crossing the centre line of your body.
  3. Make sure you rotate your hips through as you pull your arm through the water; your hips should always drive the rotation.
  4. Finish the stroke off by pushing the hand right back past your hips.

Swim Drill #3 - Straight Arm Recovery 

The aim of the Straight Arm Recovery drill is to improve your hip led rotation and maximum reach of each stroke. this drill also focuses on the technique that benefits those who swim in a wetsuit or in open water.

  1. Swim front crawl as normal but keep your arm straight during the recovery phase ie, when it's out of the water.
  2. Think about getting your armpit out of the water as your arm comes over which is particularly useful for improving your wetsuit and open water stroke when you are restricted by the material or clearance of choppy water is needed.
  3. Aim for the longest reach possible as your arm comes down to enter the water. Remember the underwater catch phase should not change from normal.

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About the author

GBurden's picture
Gabriella Burden
Published on: 11 Nov 2021

You'll find me running, swimming, cycling, or hiking. And trying to convince anyone and everyone to do the same.