Friday, August 2, 2013

The Unavoidable Facts About Drafting

Drafting (in swimming) is:

Turbulent
Claustrophobic
Uncomfortable
Unpredictable
Stochastic
Requires focus
Requires practise
A lot faster than swimming by yourself

In our squads in Perth we asked our swimmers to perform a 1000m timetrial in the pool two weeks running. In the first week our lane 1 averaged 19:15 but the following week we moved some faster swimmers across from lane 2 and told the lane 1 swimmers to draft off them - the result: 17:30!


Where they pleased? Not all of them! Several complained how awkward and claustrophobic it felt - the exact same swimmers who tend to seek out clear water in an open water race and under-perform as a result.

There's no avoiding the downsides of drafting but the huge speed improvement makes it all worthwhile. So get practising and when it comes to a race, turn the brain off and go for it!

Swim Smooth!

7 comments:

Mike CJ said...

I'd agree that it can be uncomfortable, but I've seen how effective it can be. Practice makes perfect, and once you get it right, you can "hang" to the side of another person without them even knowing you're doing it. And when they tire, just pass them and find someone else!

Anonymous said...

Tried this in the pool and could not belivee how much faster I was, can't wait to try it in open water at my big race in 2 weeks time.

David Wendkos said...

Paul,
I'm curious - how do you match swimmers for drafting practice? I've found it difficult at times, with the slower swimmer struggling to "hang on" or the faster swimmer not being fast enough and the drafting swimmer having a hard time staying off of their feet. Is there a particular amount of difference between swimmers you generally look for, say in seconds per 100m or some such measure? And when practicing drafting in a pool, do you instruct them to remain directly behind to avoid collisions during turns or with other swimmers headed the other way, or do you let them find their spot on their own?
Thanks!
David

Paul said...

Similar to David's comment I've experienced the benefits in the pool and it's amazing in terms of time. The question I have is how do you choose the right person to draft in an open water swim?

Rudolf said...

.. you know, there is a world championship going in Barcelona, and there's more to learn from watching the excellent coverage in full HDTV than from some mere blog entry alone, maybe you could glue an eye onto a real good TV near you somewhere and make a post on this, say the 1500 free men's this coming Sunday??
I personally watched the 800 free men's on said large HDTV and it was an eye opener and great to see how the camera spied especially on Sun Yang and how he does it, love this long stroke and rythm, tell us more on this please....

Anonymous said...

Paul

Interested in the swimming championships on TV last week. Katie Ledecky seemed to draft Lottie for a number of lengths - is this possible in a pool in different lanes? Also any comments on the styles of Ledecky and Missy Franklin?

Nick Parrish

Adam Young said...

Hi Rudolf, Nick,

Watch out for Friday's blog... we have something coming for you.

Adam