Freestyle Distance Tips

D-men and women are among the most unsung of the unsung heroes.  Swimming on the whole gets little fanfare, but the distance events get even less.  This is a shame, because some of the best all around racing takes place in these events.  There is technique, strategy, endurance, sprinting, and mental stamina involved, whereas a sprint involves nothing but technique and swimming fast.  Many factors and strategies can help the D-Person gain an edge and we will try to pass some on to you.

Rhythm.  The key to these races often lies in the athlete's ability to get into a comfortable rhythm.  This is also known as getting into 'the zone'.  Many swimmers will use a verse or two of a song.  Others just get into a monotonous beat.  Whatever the method, your ability to numb your mind as your body pumps out the mileage, is key to your success.  Often, you will forget about the race and will not feel pain up until the point that you 'wake-up'.  It often makes the event fun. If you don't do this unconsciously, try it, you'll like it.

Relax & Stretch. Unlike a sprint where we encourage a slight tensing of your body, in a distance event, being and staying loose is key. Many let the nerves of the big event get them tense--try to avoid it.  Similar to a sprint, however, stretching your body to make it longer is encouraged.  This takes little extra energy and still provides for good planing.

Breathing Techniques. We believe, and it has been proved that, breathing can be done most effectively in several ways.  For many years, swimmers were encouraged to breathe on both sides.  Gugly never believed this.  Our staff has seen countless incredible freestylers who only breathed on one side.  Lately, research has begun to prove our stance.  As a result, we say breath in any pattern you choose.  Use the one you are most comfortable with and the one that you believe makes you fastest.  If in-between, breathe on your favorite side only every one or two strokes.  Why?  Because the more you swim on your side, the faster you will probably go.

Once you figure out what side or sides you will be breathing on, breath often (except at the turns and at the end), get into a breathing rhythm, and stick to it.  This will make your oxygen flow to your muscles regular and will contribute to your overall stroke rhythm.  Also try to take relaxed, deep breaths.  This can also help your oxygenation and endurance.

Don't breath into and out of turns.  Train yourself not to do this because it really does slow you down, especially when compiled over 20+ laps.

Watch.  Pay attention to your competition.  Draft off them when you can.  Stick with them if you can, without knocking yourself out of your rhythm.  Pay attention to the lap numbers.  This can be hard to do, especially when you are in a rhythm, but try.  Your race strategy may depend on it.

Sprint Early. Always finish hard, and always finish hard a little earlier than you want.  If you want to sprint in the last 100, start it at the 150 or 125 and mentally swim like it is the last 100.  This is done because many times D-People begin to reel in the competition towards the end of the race, only to fall a little short because they ran out of distance.  You always want to get in your sprint and die at least a little before the end.  If you hit the wall and still had some left, or were in the process of reeling in the winner, you probably would have won if you had just started the sprint earlier.  Plus, you'd be surprised by how much energy you can gain as you are dying just by seeing you gaining on your opponent, or by seeing the wall closing in.

Finish Like A Sprinter.  Even though you are D-People, it doesn't mean you can finish like a wuss.  The last 10 yards or meters (or more) should be swum like a sprint finish.  Your kick should be kickin', you should be holding your breath to the wall, and you should jam at the wall like it is the Olympics.  There is no excuse for finished like a lamo.  Despite everything hurting and burning like never before, this is a must.