Training vs. Technique

This guest post is from Don Walsh, our instructor for the 2018 Open Water Swim Clinic. If you haven’t already read his first post, Swimming: A Lifelong Venture and Adventure, make sure you catch up!

I’ve been swimming competitively most of my life. One thing I’ve learned is, if you go to the pool every day just to swim laps, you will become the world’s leading expert at swimming like yourself. You have to switch your focus from training to technique if you really want to become a more efficient swimmer.

Use practice to refine your technique and you will produce much bigger dividends. Over time, you will learn how to get the most out of every stroke. With the right kind of practice, you can slice through the water with less effort and greater efficiency.

Ready to try it out for yourself? Here’s some earned wisdom on how to go from training to technique:

Practicing Drills will Teach You Water Efficiency

There’s a reason that practice makes perfect, especially in sports. Training is not only about building strength, it’s about building muscle memory. That’s why it’s important to regularly practice drills, especially if they improve your technique.

As you practice, you’re grooming your body to automatically respond to the shifting conditions of the swim. This improves your water efficiency, especially if you focus on how your technique is affecting your overall performance.

Breaking Your Stroke Down Allows for More Efficient Swimming

This is the heart of technique overtraining. It is helpful to pay attention to every nuance of your stroke. Take mental notes of how each part of the stroke directs your movement, position, and speed.

During my years as a sailor, I learned how to be efficient in the water. One thing I know is that shifting direction will slow you down. You have to know how to change direction in a way that minimizes the loss of time. That’s technique, and that’s why it is important.

By breaking down your stroke, you can create a technique that cuts your SPL in half. That’s what water efficiency is. It’s about creating the technique that moves you through the water with less effort. Less effort, better endurance, shorter swim times.

Never Leave the Wall without One Focus to Improve Your Swim

Training will build your endurance, but only technique will improve your performance. You will need both for a competitive swim. If you really want to improve technique, remember this one rule: don’t leave the wall without a focus.

Know what you want to achieve with every lap. Do you need to test a new style of stroke? Are you experimenting with your breathwork? Know what you aim to improve, and you won’t fall short of your mark.

Always Leave the Pool a Better Swimmer

This is something every competitive swimmer should commit to. Don’t leave the pool until you’ve improved your swim. Focusing on technique overtraining means you don’t get in the water without a goal, and you don’t leave the water until you’ve met that goal.

Being a better swimmer doesn’t mean you made better time. It means you understand the swim. That’s what technique is all about.

Technique Swimming is More Challenging with Bigger Rewards

It takes dedication to train, but improving technique takes more than that. You have to analyze your effort and make adjustments to improve it over time. You may need special training, and you will spend more time setting goals and practicing until you meet them.

The rewards are well worth the effort, however. When you combine training and technique, you’ll build both the strength and skill you need to glide effortlessly through the water. Training without technique may help you get better, but you cannot master the swim until you’ve mastered your technique.


Receive all the updates from Elemental Edge Training!

* indicates required




About Elemental Edge Training

Founded by former Navy SEAL Bill Atkinson, Elemental Edge Training offers highly organized, fast-paced half, full and three day workshops that enhance your ability to lead, follow, communicate and participate as an individual and on a team. Lectures, discussions and practicals, and a rapid fire “Plan-brief-execute-debrief” format hammer home why you’re here and what you must change to improve your personal and professional life. We also teach you a Navy SEAL mindset approach that’s a game changer for you and your team and includes direct and immediate feedback, along with “report card” to take home round out the experience, give pause for reflection, and inspire further change.

Comments are closed.