I have been thinking about writing this series for quite some time now, and have finally found some time to put the first entry together. I hear so many athletes talk about some new technique he/she has read about, or an article that promises to unlock a new secret to success, or even "the pros do this". Now don't get me wrong, it is an excellent practice to read and learn as training principles are constantly being evaluated and ever evolving. The danger lies in picking only small parts of the many different theories out there without any organized focus for how it will fit into your program.
Swimming is very dynamic. So, the real trick is to take this "new" technique/theory and incorporate it into the element of your stroke you are trying to perfect and make it work synchronously with all the other parts. Compound this complicated task with a medium, water, that most people do not feel natural in and the sum total is nothing short of overwhelming! Additionally, human nature it to gravitate toward aspects of technique that is the simplest to apply. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the retort "but it's harder that way" when I make corrections with athletes technique in the pool, on the bike and even during strength sessions.
Let's start by taking a look at the swim equation, which frames the big picture of your swim.
(# of Strokes) x (Rate of Turnover) = Time
If your sole focus is on the information that make up this equation, you are probably missing out on the many things that affect the factors of the equation. Another costly mistake is to only pay attention to one half or the other of the swim equation. Let's say you are trying to reduce the number of strokes you take per length of the pool in order to reduce the time. If you do this by "gliding" there is no way your rate of turnover can be fast enough to reduce your time. Your output (speed) will be less when you add input (new technique, focus) while keeping other inputs fixed. So then, what other inputs should I continue to work on and improve upon? Anything that will improve your pull!!
The pull takes much more effort, time and is more difficult to learn than other aspects of swimming. Hmmmm..... perhaps that is why this puzzle piece is often set aside. Avoiding swim drills in favor of volume only helps you master those inputs that don't improve the output. Have you been working on diminishing returns?
New information breeds enthusiasm, which is GREAT! But a word of caution here, tame the enthusiasm in order to fit the information into the big picture. Every choice you make in your training should support your goal.