The 6-1-6 is the staple drill of many pro swimmers and for good reason. Correct rotation helps develop an efficient stroke by aiding breathing, streamlining and glide length.
This drill is also an excellent one to help swimmers learn to breathe on either side (note its not important to bilateral breathe in open water – most pro’s don’t.
However, being able to breathe away from crashing waves, flailing arms and the glare of the sun is a crucial skill that can ensure you finish the swim in the shortest time possible and save valuable energy for the rest of your race!), which can reduce muscle imbalances and aid sighting in a straight line either by using the riverbank or staying on course in choppy water.
Extend your lower arm out in front with other one full extended along the hip on the outside of the thigh and core rotated 90◦ so it breaks the surface of the water.
Whilst looking down to the bottom of the pool do 6 kicks then take one stroke and roll the hips to switch sides and repeat the 6 kicks before the next stroke and roll maintaining full opposite extension with the arms.
Breathing can happen at any point whilst on the side but for better timing and fitness try it just before the arm comes over before the switch.
For more leg work try to do the drill with 12 kicks (12-1-12) to each stroke (just remember to breathe more frequently but keeping your head face down to the bottom of the pool in between).
To focus on utilizing the hips more in the stroke try 6 – 3 – 6 with 3 strokes in between the 6 leg kicks.
Future article – Exposing the myth that Triathletes don’t need to use their legs when swimming…Watch this space!