With triathlon season approaching, now’s the perfect time to get your swim technique down to a tee!
The swim leg of the triathlon is a challenge for many triathletes – some view it as an annoyingly strenuous warm-up that takes place before the race properly begins, while others just want it to be over and done with as quickly as possible. If you find yourself dreading trips to your local swimming pool or are fed up with being one of the last to leave the water at triathlon events, it could well be your technique that’s letting you down. A good triathlon coach will be able to help you improve your technique, but if you’d like to make small improvements yourself, these quick tips are a good place to start.
#1: Breathe every three strokes
Breathing every stroke isn’t likely to be efficient. Not only will you waste energy by lifting your head out of the water every couple of seconds, but you probably won’t be inhaling fully each time. Instead, try to adjust your breathing to once every three strokes. By breathing every three strokes, you’ll breathe on alternating sides and reduce the strain on your neck.
#2: Rotate your torso
Rotating your torso as you swim allows you to extend your reach and create more powerful strokes. You should aim to rotate around 45 degrees each way, and remember that your legs and head should continue to be straight – it’s just your hips and torso that should rotate with each stroke.
#3: Exhale fully
Many beginner swimmers assume that it’s only the breathing in that matters, but you need to exhale properly, too. Before you breathe, exhale fully underwater, completely emptying your lungs of air. This will help you take a full breath and stop you from gasping for air every couple of strokes.
#4: Kick from your hips
Don’t use your feet to kick – use your hips and core. Making this switch may take some time to become used to, but it’s a far more efficient method of swimming. Remember that the vast majority of your forward propulsion during the swim comes from your arms rather than your legs. It’s particularly important not to expend too much energy with large kicks during the first leg of a triathlon. Your legs should chiefly be used for balance.
#5: Front quadrant swimming
Front quadrant swimming is where one arm enters the water as the other arm passes through the mid-phase of the stroke. Essentially, this means that at least one arm will be in front of the head at all times. This method improves your balance and stability in the water. However, this new rhythm is tricky to learn and use correctly, so you’ll almost certainly need the guidance of a coach to get it right.
#6: Use your forearms
It’s not only your hands that you should use to pull yourself through the water – use your forearms too. Imagine that you’re trying to pull yourself up and over the water instead of just through it. Water is dense – use your arm as an anchor to help you pull your body over the water.
Swimming does not consist of a constant windmill of strokes. Instead, you should allow your body to briefly glide through the water during each stroke.
As with many sports, relaxation is key. Tense muscles are a particular problem for swimmers, as good technique relies on a steady, flowing rhythm.
If you’d like to put your newfound swim skills to the test, why not register for a triathlon in 2018.
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