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Paddles, fins and catch ups

Has any body got any advice on how best to use fins,paddles and catch up drills

I am planning to add these to my swims by simply replace one of my swim sets with one of the above

so to take today's swim

rather than 5*250m of swimming i'd go 250 swim 250 fin 250 paddles 250 swim 250 catch up (with rests after each 250)

I am guessing the fins wont be to bad in terms of effort but will 250m of paddles or catch ups be to hard and I should break them up into 100m sets to start with.



what benifit do you get when you swim with a pull bouy?


  • DOtriHarderDOtriHarder Posts: 307

    250m is probably too much for drills, no problem for fins though, i haven't used paddles but they maybe quite easy like fins as they increase the power of your stroke.

    I would do shorter quality lengths for the drills 50s or 100s then repeat them for your 250m total. ie 5x50 catch up with 30 sec rest.

    Saluting is another good drill for stroke positional training.

    on the recovery part of the arm stroke pull you thumb up your body all the way to the salute position and then forwards to entry. This encourages you to maintain a high elbow position which then gives space and time for you to breathe.

    Swimming with a pull bouy means that you are simply dragging your legs, most of us have a hard enough time keeping our legs up when kicking ferociously let alone when they are still. Pull bouy develops arm strength but also shows up rotation in the body or poor posture. I could not swim more than 30m with a pull bouy because my feet would hit the bottom, after correcting my stroke technique i can now keep the lengths going for much longer. If you have boyant feet you can always just cross your ankles to stop you kicking and see how you fare.

  • loonytoonloonytoon Posts: 673
    Nice one...cheers for the advice

    I shall reduce the drill distances but from what you've said I sould be okay with fins over a distance...I will see what happens with paddles both 220tri (a couple of issues ago) and The Tri-Training bible suggest using them for strength building so may have to build up the use of these

    If you have boyant feet you can always just cross your ankles to stop you kicking and see how you fare.

    Like you i'd stand up...

    I will give you a match report next week (tuesday I think its scheduled in)

  • plingbootplingboot Posts: 19
    Paddles can be used for two things - strength and technique.

    For technique, only insert your middle finger into the strap. In this position, the paddle will twist and flap if your technique isn't too good. To get the paddle to stick to your palm, concentrate on hand entry, catch, push and a nice long finish. It took me a few sessions, but is worth the effort.

    For strength you can either continue with the above position or use the other straps to secure your whole hand.

    You might want to try 400m warm up - no paddles, then 3 sets of 200m, easy/medium for 2 lengths then hard for 1 length (repeat) with paddles. Or 400m with paddles and a pull buoy. This lets you really concentrate on arm technique.

    Another great drill is not to use the straps at all and concentrate on working your hands in small sculling motions to see how palm position creates a hold on the water - planting the paddle firmly to your hand.

    This is super slow drill which can be done hands out front or hand at 90º to the body.

    I'd avoid buying big macho ones until you have your technique dialed in - otherwise you might end up damaging your shoulder…

    (I use the gray speedo ones (small), which have a number of strap positions.)

    Fins… these are a great tool, but personally i'd avoid using them as propulsion boosters (to get you down the pool quicker). I'd see them as a low effort way of keeping your legs up while doing other slow technique intensive arm drills - ie single arm, shark fin etc. Doing these drills is difficult enough without having to thrash away with your legs too - so this is why you'd use fins.

    For catch-up you could use a short length of plastic pipe (20cm). Hold this out infront of you and as you swim you swap it between hands - you can only do this if you swim full catch-up.

    Hope that helps a bit…


  • loonytoonloonytoon Posts: 673
    cheers (both).

    Every time you see stuff in mags / books it just says "Fins" or "catch up" or summat..and rarely explains why or how to do it properly ....

  • ChrisChris Posts: 17
    I do a full set with Paddles (with pull buoy).

    Example is 3x 3x 100

    2x 150

    1x 300

    1st Set Full Stroke

    2nd Set Paddles

    3rd Set Full Stroke.

    Usually feel it in your shoulders after the paddles. If it really hurts during the paddles then take them off because you don't really want to have any shoulder injuries so close to the beginning of race season.

    I only ever use fins when i am using a kick board.

    Drills are excellent if done correctly. They must be slow and deliberate so you can fully concentrate on technique.
  • 3speed3speed Posts: 16
    That's all good advice!

    Paddles are great for building shoulder strength but introduce their use really gradually as they will put a great deal of extra pressure on your shoulder.You could try doing pull sets with the pull bouy for a few weeks before starting with the paddles.

    As for drills you can swim catch-up as a full stroke drill or with a pull bouy, this way it's good for maximising the efficiancy of individual arms as you start each pull from a standstill.

    If youre stroke is ok I would 'nt put to much emphsis on the fins at the moment - perhaps give them a go after the end of this season and use them to increase your base for next year.


  • BonusBBonusB Posts: 279
    I was under the impression that most of the strength for the pull phase of the stroke comes from the pec rather than the shoulder; so do paddles only tire the shoulder if the technique is bad or do they tire regardless (ie because the shoulder is used so much during the stroke)
  • 3speed3speed Posts: 16

    The pull utilises the lats much more predominantly than the pecks. Youre right to point out that using paddles would work more muscles than just the shoulder,using paddles will tire all these muscles whether the techniqe is good or bad. Because the shoulder is such a finely balanced joint it's better to allow the muscles that support it time to develop without overstraining.
  • jazdogjazdog Posts: 223
    Hi Bonus B

    It depends on the type of paddle as well - I picked up a set on ebay dead cheap and discovered they could be used to row a boat... the first time I used them I could really feel the strain in my shoulder - If you've got big paddles use them for 1 or 2 lengths at a time to build up the muscle and gradually increase it over a few weeks and the shoulder joint should be ok.

    They are great for getting a good feel for the water tho - I would recommend them!

  • loonytoonloonytoon Posts: 673
    I should have asked this a while ago we should publish the advice..

    "The 220Triathlon Forum guide to splashing about(better) with bits of plastic attached to your extrenities"

    I am not sure my brain will cope with all these tips and hints though will have to take it slow

    cheers again...

    regarding pecs my were throbing when I got out of the pool this morning boy am I glad I dont use them (much) for cycling

  • BonusBBonusB Posts: 279
    I have to confess I've been hiding from them for a while, mostly as I always feel odd as the only one in the morning at my local pool with 'toys' :D

    Now that my swim technique asctually looks like someone swimming rather than an active drowning I might not be so embarassed to use them again.
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