18 Swimming Tips For Triathletes

Want to try a Triathlon but worried about swimming? Our bespoke swim tuition partner, Swimming Nature, share some of their top tips:

1. Learn to swim ( again )

When did you learn to swim? Have you been aware of this since you were a youngster or have you gained an understanding of it recently?

No matter what, if you haven’t been doing laps since you first learnt, it’s likely you’ve forgotten some stuff.

Considering taking swimming lessons for a few weeks can be an excellent way to improve your triathlon swimming capabilities. Having a command of the fundamentals provides an outstanding base from which to progress your instruction.

2. Take your time

Time constraints due to obligations such as work, daily life, and family can make it difficult to focus on improving swimming skills and increasing confidence in the pool.

The main point is to concentrate on the present moment. Remain composed while in the water, concentrate on the fundamentals of what you are practising, and try not to panic over if you will be competent enough to complete the race you have registered for.

3. Body position technique

Visualize two individuals in a swimming pool: one swim, and the other strides along the bottom of the swimming pool. This highlights how important body position is.

If your legs are dragging behind you while you swim, it will make it harder for you to propel yourself through the water. Experiment with how you are positioned in the water by raising your hips up to the top and seeing how it feels.

Point your goggles at the wall in front of you and then down towards the floor and observe what happens to your posture. You’ll be surprised how much this changes things.

The primary focus should always be on maximizing flotation in the water, making sure that the back, hips, and legs are all on the surface. Concentrate on increasing the length of your back and legs (not necessarily your arms) and attempting to make yourself as lengthy as possible.

You will likely have your head tilted downwards in the water, but hopefully, you will feel yourself ascending throughout the entire body.

Rock your hips

Move your hips in time with each movement you make – like you are ice skating or paddling a kayak. This body roll will facilitate smoother arm movement, help you extend your reach, give you increased strength, and, most importantly, make it simpler for you to take in breaths, turn your head, and locate air.

4. Leg technique

Including leg kicks in your routine can be advantageous both for perfecting your body posture and for propelling you forward.

Your kicks should be quick and brief to provide the most push and ensure that your body remains in the right position. You won’t necessarily achieve your best result if you try to move your legs as fast as possible; it might actually have the reverse effect.

Strive for a consistent cadence in your kicks, but one that doesn’t exhaust you while you’re in the water. You will become worn out if you kick too many times during the race, which will make it harder in the later portion.

Focus your kick

It is essential to conserve energy by kicking your legs and providing your own power. You will be able to swim more quickly and it will feel less strenuous.

Start your kick by using your hips for leverage and make sure your knee is mostly straight. Make sure that you perform your kicks deliberately and without violence. A relaxed and easy movement is best.

5. Arms technique

It is common to observe very high stroke rates among the most elite triathlon swimmers on the planet, accompanied by an oscillating arm movement. What stroke rate is best for you? That’s up to you to figure out.

Look for a pace that feels good for you and keep repeating it. If you practice swimming at 60 strokes per minute but start your actual race at a higher rate like 80-90 – as champions like Alistair Brownlee would do – you will likely have difficulty.

Fingers first

Try to use wide sweeping movements with your hands to enter the water that is away from the centre. Make sure that your arms are lined up with your shoulders and hips and that you lead with your fingertips. This will give you the most effective grip on the water and propel you forward with more intensity.

In an ideal situation, each of your fingers would be slightly separated with a small gap between them, but when you first start learning, strive to keep your fingers close together.

Keep your arms moving

Aim for big circles with your arms. You can always increase the difficulty if you like, but so long as you don’t stop your movements (speed isn’t of the essence) and you extend your arms behind your legs, it should be an easy task to lift your arms out of the water and move them back in front of you.

Don’t put too much emphasis on what you can do with your hands for the present; you can focus on that later.

6. Breathing technique

This reiterates the initial notion: Become familiar with the fundamentals and understand them thoroughly.

Can you breathe to both sides with equal comfort? What if on race day, it’s sunny and the only side you can breathe to have you squinting in the face of the glaring sun? Would it be a concern if the course indicators were located on the opposite side of which you are swimming to?

You could handle it at the moment, but it would be wise to be ready for whatever could happen. Also, if you practice taking breaths while swimming every 3 strokes, when it becomes challenging you have the option to switch up to breathing in between every 2 strokes to help you reach the finish.

Is it difficult for you to take a breath after every three strokes, yet you still want to enjoy the advantages listed above? Bilateral breathing indicates that an individual is inhaling and exhaling on alternate sides, yet it has no association with taking a breath every 3 strokes. Attempt a succession (while taking a breath every two strokes) of left, left, right, and right.

7. Keep your head low

Practice the same stroke rate that you plan to employ on race day. If your goal is to finish the 750m sprint triathlon in approximately 13 minutes, you must keep a pace of 1:45 per 100 meters. Can you swim 100m in 1:45 during training?

You don’t have to put in a lot of effort, yet keeping up with a race speed when you swim is already hard enough without having a sense of what it “feels like”. Engage in a workout of your average, racing speed to get used to what the sensation is like before the race. This will also offer more health advantages than just doing laps at the swimming pool.

9. Slow it down

Your race, that is, rather than the training.

A triathlon is not only a swimming event but also includes biking and running. Whether you’re swimming in a pool or a natural body of water, you still have two more sporting activities to do.

It may be possible to achieve even better swimming results, if you’ve competed before, by maintaining the same speed as previously but expending less energy.

10. Mix up the training

As mentioned earlier, ‘just swimming’ isn’t enough. Frequently, people will visit the pool, enter it and then swim for the time that is designated for them. Although engaging in this activity may promote cardiovascular strength in the short term, any growth will eventually plateau.

The most cost-effective form of exercise is interval training. Doing high-speed drills in the water poses a much lower risk of injury compared to running.

See if you can complete 10 consecutive 100m sprints in a faster time than 1:45 per 100 m over a total distance of 750m.

Provided adequate rest is taken after each repetition, the technique should remain functional throughout the whole set. Try and complete each 100m in 1:30 / 100m. If that’s too easy or difficult, adjust accordingly.

11. Join a club

Having an expert instructor direct your routine is the ideal way to change up your exercise program!

This can be a great route to increase fitness levels for swimmers who have a solid grasp of the technique. Moreover, the social aspect is a great perk that will aid in getting people motivated and make playing the sport even more enjoyable.

Joining a club could be the key to helping you overcome a difficult plateau in your performance. Having a group of swimmers and a poolside coach can offer great encouragement that can make swimming more enjoyable.

12. Do something you enjoy

If drills are not your favourite thing to do, don’t make a habit of it. If you take pleasure in pushing your limits by sprinting 10 times at 50 meters, use it as a reward!

If you’ve chosen not to go to the pool since the routine you need to do is unpleasant, switch it up. Some swimming is better than no swimming! Keep in mind that this isn’t a task that you have to do; you’re doing it for enjoyment and the thrill. When it stops being fun, change something.

These suggestions start with the fundamentals and progress step-by-step, verifying your approach is right before tackling the details of appropriate instruction.

Attending swimming lessons will give you the chance to practice and sharpen your swimming skills with helpful tips. Go and take the initial steps towards being a better swimmer!

13. Fight your instincts

Swimming is counter-intuitive. It may be helpful to keep in mind that this will assist you in combating any fear or reactions of self-preservation.

It takes a while to overhaul some of these inherent considerations – for example, focusing on the future, keeping your head up to breathe, and swimming powerfully and vigorously. This is a natural reaction that your body will have, but with the help of the advice in the following tips, it’s necessary to take an alternative approach.

14. Be productive

If you don’t relish being in the water, you may be discouraged if you believe that you must remain in the liquid indefinitely.

However, swimming does not have to require extensive amounts of time. Spending just 20-30 minutes in the water per session is more than enough if you can make the most of the time by concentrating and being productive.

15. Don’t focus on distance

When you begin doing swims and workouts, do not concentrate too much on how long you are swimming. This can be off-putting, especially if you feel like you must complete a definite number of laps during one session or a set amount of time.

Instead of worrying about quantity, concentrate on quality and pay attention to how your body feels while swimming. Make an effort to do a little bit more each time. On some occasions, you may feel unwell, so you may have to limit the amount of swimming you do; on other days, you will have excellent vitality, allowing you to go further. And remember that progress isn’t linear.

16. Keep your sessions regular

You should strive to swim regularly every week. At least once a week should be exercised to receive any advantages because fewer days mean you have to restart again from the beginning.

You should try to swim as often as possible to keep up any progress you make and to remember the experience from session to session without too much effort.

17. Focus on technique

In the beginning, your sessions should mainly consist of developing the correct technique. If you can efficiently and precisely swim, it will be easier for you to move forward and it will appear effortless.

Once you master swimming 400 meters, it may be possible to modify the amount of energy you put in. You don’t have to exhaust all your energy, but varying your work rate can improve your physical fitness, and stamina, and make your training sessions more enjoyable.

18. Be fluid

There should be a steady, uninterrupted flow to your stroke without any interruptions or gaps. Keep your arms moving – don’t be concerned with speed, just make sure they don’t stop because that will help you along and keep you afloat better.


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