If you don’t average about three swims a week you will lose your feel for the water and your technique will begin to deteriorate. No feel, no technique, no speed. If the option is between one or two long workouts or three or four shorter workouts, swimmers seem to do better when they swim more frequently as opposed to only doing a few longer workouts each week.
Early in your workout, in the middle of your workout, or at the end of your workout (or any combination of the three!) do some specific technique work to reinforce good swimming skills. There are many drills you can do to stay tuned up, or to help you develop better technique.
One or two times a week (depending upon how frequently you swim) do part of your workout with oomph – push the effort, go hard, whatever you want to call it. If all of your workouts are focused on technique, your technique will improve. But what will happen when you try to go faster? You will get tired, your technique will deteriorate, and you might as well call it a day. If you are doing some hard or challenging workouts – mixed in with technique work – as different workouts or as part of the same workout – you will learn how to hold good technique while going faster.
Depending upon your swimming goals, there may be no reason to do more than one or two tough workout sets a week, as long as you do one or two easier workouts, too. Work hard on the hard things, and easy on the easy things, and each kind of work will give better results.
It might be a start, a push-off, or a turn, but you should always do things the same way – streamline, then into the transition between the streamline and swimming. But first, always a streamline.
Always push off the walls the way you would if you were coming out of a turn. When you starting a set, you should push off the wall exactly the same way that you would be pushing off the wall if you were coming out of a turn. Most races have more turns than starts, and getting some extra practice with any part of a turn is a bonus.
This doesn’t mean spend $300 on the latest and greatest high-tech slicker than skin piece of swim wear. It means don’t wear baggy beach shorts if you are trying to improve your technique or go learn how to hold technique when going faster. There are times to wear a swimsuit that gives you some extra drag, but not before you have mastered good technique.
Among other benefits, swim fins or flippers can help you achieve (artificially) a better body position and you will learn what that position feels like while moving. Then, when the flippers are off, you can try to recreate that position by feel, since you will already have a better idea what it will feel like when you get there.