Kim Brackin knows the fastest way to improve any swimmer.
As a coach with the LA Current with multiple Olympic medals, titles, and awards to her name, Brackin maintains that making a swimmer faster isn’t ever her primary goal, it’s a natural outcome from her dedication to consistent technical practice. But before you’re thinking drills, drills, drills, Brackin has a different approach to technical practice and it’s one that every swimmer, no matter what their level, can benefit from.
Brackin’s home base is in Florida, USA, where she has a training facility equipped with a special endless pool, complete with underwater mirrors and cameras. “An athlete in my pool is watching themselves every stroke with the mirrors on the bottom; I’m filming it so when they stop, we talk about it and look precisely at exactly what I’m asking them to focus on,” Brackin explains. Typically, swimmers have to rely on a coach’s eyes to “see” what they are doing but with video, Brackin can show a swimmer immediately what they are doing and offer feedback.
Brackin’s use of video and technical swim analysis isn’t new—it’s her continuous integration and application of the information that is innovative. “I believe that consistent technical practice combined with smart training, great fitness levels, strength, and mental training, is what will help an athlete improve more rapidly. My philosophy is that we shouldn’t be leaving that technical piece out and that an individualized approach to that is integral to success,” Brackin explains. That means outside the training facility, even in competition, Brackin always has her GoPro with and is constantly taking footage.
Video analysis is often used for newer swimmers but “elite level athletes are still relying on technology,” Brackin explains, referencing her work with the LA Current and some of the fastest swimmers in the world. “Watching themselves swim, then asking if we can film and look at it—to be able to see what they’ve done, to see what it looks like when it’s wrong, what it looks like when it’s right—because they know it’s going to be the fastest way for them to make an adjustment.”
Moreover, Brackin isn’t just using video as a simple correction tool: Brackin uses the video analysis process to open a dialogue and bring the athlete into the stroke creation process. “When an athlete comes to see me, I don’t say ‘you have to do this in your swimming.’ There’s not one single answer,” she says. “I say ‘let’s try this,’ ‘what do you think?’ ‘what does it feel like?’ I'm asking them questions so they can help create the stroke in a setting where there is someone who can keep them from going off on the wrong track.”
It’s a subtle perspective shift, but Brackin’s approach to consistent technical practice is about learning how to improve faster and letting the speed come as a natural byproduct, and that’s something every and any swimmer can benefit from. “My goal isn’t to make you faster in a month,” Brackin says, “it’s about learning skills and how to approach your sport, how to become a student of the sport, and how to coach yourself every day in practices.”
For more on Kim Brackin and her technical approach to coaching, visit brackineliteswimtraining.com.