Gear review: Drill Deck – Freestyle Swim Training & Drill Game for Triathlon

A planned short break from swimming after the 2016 triathlon season turned into a 4+ month break when I couldn’t get motivated to get back into the pool more than once or twice. It didn’t help that my local Y’s swim schedule changed, with no more Monday to Friday 12 PM swims. This had been the perfect time slot for me. Instead, I would have to shift my lunch hour, or swim at 5:30 AM, which has been very unappealing lately.

In February I was contacted by Drill Deck to see if I would be interested in trying out their swim game – the Drill Deck Freestyle Swim Training & Drill Game for Triathlon. It sounded intriguing, and I wondered if it might provide some inspiration for me.

My free copy of the game arrived in the mail in March, and one morning shortly after 5:30 AM, I was at the pool ready to try it out with my friend Rebecca.


Essentially, you roll the 2 dice, which determine whether you will swim laps or do a drill, and how many laps of the pool you do it for. If you’re doing a drill, then you draw a card from the deck, and do the drill you’ve chosen. Then you roll the dice again to determine whether you will swim laps or do a drill… and repeat.

Colour-coded drill cards

The cards are colour coded by area of focus, so if on a specific day you really just want to focus on one thing – e.g. speed – then you can just pull out the appropriate cards and choose from them. The categories are:

  • Stroke
  • Breathing
  • Body position
  • Kicking
  • Open water sighting
  • Speed

Each card gives a description of the drill, and then a tip.

Example of a drill card

Rebecca and I had fun trying out the game after swimming some warm up lengths. We even cheated a few times when we rolled “LAP” but really wanted to do drills – we overruled the game.

I have continued to use the game in my swims. Since I previously had semi-private swim lessons with a coach, I have tried many of the drills included in Drill Deck before, and was familiar with how to do them. If you weren’t sure what they meant, the Drill Deck website provides additional information for each of the drills, including videos.

Drill Deck doesn’t replace a swim coach, but it can definitely reduce the monotony of swimming endless lengths of front crawl. Sometimes, I’m perfectly happy to just get a specific swim distance done in a given amount of time, but other times, it’s nice to try some drills that I might not think of on my own, and to do it in a fun way.

I would recommend the game to someone who gets bored easily swimming lengths, or just needs a bit of inspiration to get back in the pool.

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