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The importance of good habits

Good training habits lead to good racing and good times. Many of the top swimmers past and present point to the attention to detail that they give in training just to get that extra edge on the competition when it comes to race day.

While most of us will not get to that elite level of swimming, that should not prevent us from leaving no stone un-turned in seeking to get the best out of ourselves when racing. Doing so starts in training.

A habit is a behaviour that we regularly do, or perform. There are a number of good training habits that swimmers can develop to get the most out of themselves in the pool. Developing good habits takes time and should not rely on the coach for reminders of what is the correct, or best thing to do. Developing certain good habits is hard, others are more easy to become part of your swimming skill set. When swimmers are tired, it is easy just to do a surface turn, rather than a flip turn in than last 100m of the set. Swimmers can often fall into bad habits because swimming challenges us to get better but it can be uncomfortable.

When our body is stressed during a swim set, we may want to make it easier by not performing what is required properly, slowing down, or even getting out and missing an important rep. On the other hand, getting through something tough and doing everything properly can be hugely satisfying. We need to try to be the best we can be but also be aware of when our body is telling us enough is enough and it really is time to stop, or slow down.

Below is a list of some great training habits to have:

  1. Stretch while waiting for the squad session to begin
  2. When the warm starts get straight in – the warm-up has a purpose in preparing swimmers for the main set. Swimmers that cut the warm-up short are not prepared for the main set. Also, it is disrespectful to other swimmers, if they are waiting for those that started late.
  3. Streamline properly off the wall for the start of each swim
  4. Perform correct turn technique at all times
  5. In breaststroke, make sure a full pull out is done with each push-off and turn
  6. When doing a drill, perform it correctly rather than worrying about speed
  7. When asked to swim at a certain pace then do so.
  8. Avoid standing up to take a rest.
  9. Order yourself in the lane based on speed. This order may change depending on the stoke.
  10. Go to the bathroom before training.


The above points serve as a great checklist for yourself. How well do you do each of these? Which ones can you improve upon?

Improvement in some, or all, of the will go a long way to you becoming a better swimmer.


photo credit: wuestenigel Professioneller Schwimmer via photopin (license)

Richard Bruford View All

Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology.

With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools.

Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin.

In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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