Are you are a triathlete that needs some help with swimming? Or perhaps a beginner that is a bit unsure where to start? Whether you’re a seasoned competitor or simply a novice, we’ve got loads of swimming tips for triathletes that will help you perform at your very best.
Top 10 ways to improve your swimming
1. Stoke Style
When you are training in the pool, it’s a good idea to practice a variety of different strokes so that you can get your body warmed up in every area. However, the stroke that is of the most importance, and the one that you will use in a triathlon event will be freestyle.
Freestyle is a great workout for your entire body during training, as it helps to build muscle, strengthen your core and burn a ton of calories. And it is the fastest and strongest style of swimming to help you win that race.
2. Head Position
At all costs you need to avoid keeping your head at any angle as this will cause unnecessary drag and will slow you down for sure. Focus on ensuring that you are looking straight down at the bottom of the pool floor, with only a small part of your neck exposed out of the water.
Try to keep your head as still as possible, even when your arms are rotating and your body is moving. If you head is positioned at any other angle, it will force your midriff to fall slightly downwards which will mean you are creating extra resistance to the water.
3. Foot Motion
Some people believe that the harder they kick, the faster they will go. This actually isn’t true. Your kicking technique needs to balance with your stroke and pull and if you are kicking extra hard to make up for lack of skill in other areas, you won’t be going as far as fast as others.
The key here is to keep your legs taut and make your feet flexible. Kick as if you are scissoring through the water, and as if you have fins. If it helps, purchase some fins to train in so that you get used to the movement your feet should be making.
Also while you are training, focus on reducing the amount the kick. In the long run this will help to conserve energy and improve your balance in the water.
4. Arm Pull
The way you pull your stroke in freestyle is super important. If you aren’t pulling the stroke correctly, then you could be seriously slowing yourself down. Here’s what you should be doing: your arm should be accelerating allllll the way back past your hips, and keep it straight, no bending!
You should be pushing your arm through the water, not up and out of it. Keep it neat and streamlined, this way you will travel a further distance in a shorter amount of time. Make sure you are also taking care not to cross your arms over or be pulled to the opposite side during strokes and breaths.
5. Hand Position
It’s really important to finish off your arm pull with a smooth entry to the water. Focus on getting your hand into the pool or open body of water by slicing it in at around the same level of your eyes, and drive it all the way forward. It is more streamlined and efficient if you drive your hand forward beneath the water’s service rather than keep it out of the water for longer.
6. Breathing Technique
If you are a beginner at swimming, you will probably need to take a breath after every stroke, however when you build up your strength and endurance it will be vital that you practice breathing properly. What you’ll need to do is exhale 90% of the air in your lungs whilst your head is under the water, and then breath on alternate sides after every three strokes. This will save you time as well!
Building up your endurance is absolutely imperative for triathletes. When you are training for an event, start off swimming smaller distances but focus on technique. Then slowly build up your distance and time until you are nailing a suitable pace. A triathlon isn’t a walk in the park, you are going to need a good level of endurance to complete it!
8. Practice Makes Perfect
Get in the water every day if you can, especially if you feel that swimming is your weakest area. Practice really does make perfect and swimming on a daily basis (or close to) will build up endurance, strength, technique and of course, confidence.
9. Staying straight
If you compete in a triathlon that features swimming in open water, you are going to need to make sure you are swimming straight. To figure out how you swim, do a length with your eyes closed and have your trainer watch.
Do you drift to one side? If so, your stroke is not technically correct. It means that you are perhaps pulling harder and stronger on one side, or that when you take a breath you veer off to the opposite side. It’s important to know which way you tend to drift to, and focus on straightening it up.
Another important skill to master in open water swimming is sighting. Just as you need to be able to swim in a straight line, you also need to ensure you know where you are going. It can be quite easy to drift in open water, but here’s how to help.
Practice by lifting your head to eye level out of the water and looking straight in front just as you come up for a breath. Whilst you arm is just about to leave the water for a stroke, lift your head to look at your position ahead, and then rotate your head sideways to breath. Make sure you actually take in your position when you look!
Try focusing on mastering each and every one of these skills and you can be sure to see an improvement in your swimming technique, and hopefully achieve a faster time too. Practice as often as possible in both a pool and open water and last but not least, good luck!