Call me a nerd if you want, but I love a good swimming clinic. This past Saturday I attended Flow Swimming’s Sprint Freestyle Clinic featuring Ali DeLoof of the DeLoof Dynasty.

Ali was 4th at Olympic Trials this summer in the 100 LCM Back (59.69) and just last week added an American Record to her resume by leading off the 400 MR in 50.59 (SCY).

Swimming clinics are one of my favorite training tools for three main reasons.

Focus on Technique
Swim practice is inherently focused on conditioning. Swim clinics allow for conditioning to be thrown out the window. Research has shown that swimmers are mega-conditioned and that we don’t spend enough time focusing on technique. In fact, scientists are calling on coaches to use Warm Up and Cool Down as areas in which coaches can focus on technique without sacrificing their over-valued conditioning. 

Mark Hill, Flow Swimming’s Founder, broke down specific drills with Ali as the demonstrator. Here’s a short video dissecting and discussing Human Paddle Drill. Ali demonstrates the drill for the kids and then puts it all together. The focus of Human Paddle Drill isn’t just about catching water with a high elbow. For Mark, the real value is in re-setting the head into proper alignment.

Star Power
How many girls have you met that break 1:00 in the 100 LCM Backstroke? Or that competed in the Finals at Olympic Trials? Ali DeLoof wasn’t a superstar coming out of high school (25.2 50 SCY Free; 51.99 100 SCY Free). It’s important for younger swimmers to meet and converse with elite swimmers because at one point they weren’t — they were just like them — which provides perspective not found elsewhere.

When else is a young swimmer going to have the chance to watch, listen, and swim with a bonafide superstar?

Mental Prep
One thing that impressed me about this swimming clinic was the amount of time spent discussing “the process” and how it relates on a macro and micro level.

“The easiest way to not get the numbers on the board you’re looking is to try to put the numbers on the board. Is it good to have goal times? Absolutely. Is it really good to remind yourself about your goal times as your standing behind the blocks? Absolutely not. One of the things that is really important to understand that Ali talks about is the process. The thing that helped her relax was not thinking about getting some time. She just thought about the process and really enjoying the team, the swimming, the race itself, and that brought the best out of her. You can’t really control the time or the way that it’s ticking. You can control having a really explosive start. Hitting the water with a tight streamline. If you can control those things, fast swimming equals fast times.” – Mark Hill

Do yourself a favor and bring your child to every clinic that comes to town. There is bound is be perspective, growth, and value not found in your every day swim practice. 

If you are in the Hampton Roads area, Dylan Bosch will be in Virginia Beach in just a couple of weeks. This South African Olympian is one of only a handful of swimmers to ever break 1:40 in the 200 SCY Butterfly. You won’t want to miss this elite swimming clinic on starts and turns. Email MarkHillSwim@gmail.com for more information.

 

 

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