Finding Length - Swimming with Coach Vance

Like a game of Marco Polo, I went looking for length in my afternoon swim at our local High School pool. Occasionally I found it, most of the time I kept wandering and wondering, "Length, length where are you?"

Fresh from last week's session on swimming with Elite Training Bible Coach Jim Vance, I was armed with images of length, and how length should feel, so I jumped in my lane ready to apply it. Coach Vance spoke to 40 area athletes and several coaches on the 3 top technical aspects of swimming. Jessica Laufenberg hosted the clinic at her Verona studio SBR Coaching and Training Center. Jerry Landmark from Pinnacle Health & Fitness also helped organize and promote the session.

"Just throwing an arm out in front of your body is not length when it comes to swimming," said Coach Vance. "You need to be active in terms of gaining length."

Oh oh, that meant the "recovery" part of my swim stroke wasn't meant for rest... Isn't that the glide phase? Instead I need to lengthen out, grab a bigger hold on the water and then displace myself past that water. Using a long tall posture in the water I needed to reach forward as much as possible and extend my body, gaining length.

My 5'10" body should assume the properties of a speedboat: long, lean and fast. Active length could give me less drag and more speed.

When actively reaching:
- My core should naturally engage.
- I should feel tension up my side to my armpit.
- I'll gain momentum, lift and length, all good things!

I'm content to keep looking for that length and more in the pool. Learning and playing is a lifelong adventure!

Find more from Coach Vance at: 3 Drills for OWS
Follow his blog at
photos: top- My Dad and I. I don't have a swim background, and I failed my last childhood swimming lesson, but I've always loved the water. Now as a triathlon coach I love learning new concepts & teaching methods for the swim, bike & run!
left bottom- Jerry Landmark, me, Coach Vance & Jessica Laufenberg prior to Coach Vance's session at SBR.


ShirleyPerly said...

Good tips on length. At barely 5'3", I need all that I can get. Thanks!

Lora said...

I've learned that just when I think I've stretched as far as I can, there's more to go. Great post!

Sunny said...

Very good to hear from other coaches, isn't it? We're always learning. That's why I follow your blog! Keep reeeeaching, and you will get faster Sara.
Cheers, -Sunny of

Sara Cox Landolt said...

ShirleyPerly, Thanks for reading & commenting. Your encouragement helps!

Lora, Thanks too for visiting. We can always reach farther, right?

Sunny, Keep reaaccching. That's funny! Thanks too for the encouragement.