Maintaining swim fitness and improving technique during a British winter can be challenging. I’ve got plenty of motivation but still find it hard to get up on dark, cold winter mornings for the trip to the pool. So why not try a warm weather swim camp? After a bit of research, I chose a venue that offered plenty of other sport and leisure activities so that we could treat it as a family holiday.
The primary aim of the one-week camp was to identify where stroke improvements could be made and to focus on specific drills that could be incorporated into a training programme back home. I wouldn't end up with a perfect stroke but would go away with a clear idea on what to work on and how. Two sessions a day in the pool has the added benefit of building swim fitness.
The key tool for the coaches is video analysis. We were filmed on the first day and given feedback on what improvements could be made. This was repeated on the final day so that we could gauge our progress and identify the primary areas to continue working on. For many, this was the first time they had seen themselves swimming and it highlighted the differences between what they thought they were doing and what they were actually doing.
The course approach was to focus each morning on a particular element of swim technique, e.g. rotation, the catch; then to describe what we were trying to achieve; and then to practice specific drills. In the afternoon we would incorporate these drills into longer swim sets, typically completing 4km to 6km per day. Most of the participants were triathletes so we focused on front crawl but mixed it up by incorporating backstroke and breaststroke into warm ups/swim downs. For variety we also spent time on tumble turns, butterfly and an open water session.
The pool sessions were complemented by gym work and pool side strength training. We were taught some key prehabilitation exercises to avoid injury and directed to resistance machines and TRX (strength training equipment using a system of ropes and webbing) to build core strength.
Would I recommend a swim camp? The answer is a resounding yes and my view was echoed by the other participants at our final evening dinner. The key benefit for me was the ability through video analysis to have a better understanding of where I can make improvements. The detailed explanations of why we do each drill enables me to train with a purpose and not just grind out the lengths. And to cap it all, training in a warm climate with the pool at your doorstep certainly beats those winter morning blues.
The swim camp was held at Club La Santa, Lanzarote