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Top Ten Ways To Improve Your Triathlon Swims – Part Two

Top Ten Ways To Improve Your Triathlon Swims – Part Two

By Dick Sidner


#2. Swim streamlined and horizontal – Water presents incredible resistance. To reduce resistance (drag) you need to be as straight as an arrow. Your toes should be pointed and legs should be high in the water and close together. Keep your knees and ankles bumping each other while they float behind in the slipstream created by your head and torso. Any body part outside the stream creates drag.

The Top Ten Ways to Improve Your Triathlon Swims part 2 PA

Photo by Andy Jessop.

# 3. Don’t kick so furiously. Please stop kicking, especially with bent knees (bicycle kick). A powerful kick will help good swimmers swim faster, but without good technique, kicking will create drag and slow you down while it depletes your oxygen. Practice with a pull buoy to eliminate your legs from the process and to improve your horizontal position. You will notice that it’s much easier to swim without the resistance of thrashing legs and with the extra oxygen normally lost to them. Once the horizontal position is achieved, develop a kick which begins at the hips with propulsive forces traveling down the leg like a whip. I recommend using the longer fins rather than the short ones to improve your kick.

#4. Rotate – Just like swinging a golf club, the power stroke in swimming is driven by rotation of the hips and shoulders. Rotation makes it easier to breath because your head rotates with your body out of the water, and the hip (and shoulder) rotation engages the core to power the underwater stroke. When your right arm begins the pull, your right hip and shoulder should rotate out of the water driving the stroke. If you are swimming “flat,” i.e., without rotation, you will have less power and your body will naturally bend sideways at the hips to assist arm recovery which creates more drag.

The Top Ten Ways to Improve Your Triathlon Swims part 2 PA-2

Photo by Andy Jessop.

#5. Eliminate arm crossover – An efficient “catch” begins directly in front of your shoulder, not in front of your head, or worse, in front of your opposite shoulder. Crossing over causes lateral movement of the hips which destroys your streamline. During the power stroke with a crossover, you push water sideways rather pulling and then pushing water from directly in front of you to directly behind you. The opposite problem is pulling too wide. During a proper pull, the path of your thumb should trace your midline. Do this with a slightly bent elbow, fingertips pointing straight down.

#6. Keep your head aligned with your spine. Triathletes who struggle with swimming complain that their legs sink. And they do! To overcome this, work on proper head position and use a pull buoy or even a front mounted snorkel. Push your chest down. Your eyes should look straight down at the black line, not where you are going. (Open water swimming requires some additional visual skills – see the next installment). The water line should be on the crown of your head, not on your forehead. Keep your forehead in the water at all times and keep one goggle in the water during the breath.

For more information go to swim open water.net (Top Ten Ways…)
Watch for Installment III coming soon.

Dick SidnerAbout the Author: A US Masters Swimming (USMS) and USA Swimming certified Level III Coach. Dick is Red Cross certified in CPR, First Aid and Safety Training for Swim Coaches and is a long standing member of the USMS Long Distance Committee (12 years). He is also a member of the USMS Open Water Clinic Task Force. Dick specializes in developing improved stroke and open water techniques in both experienced and novice triathletes and masters swimmers.
Learn more on SwimOpenWater.Net