I found this neat little article on http://www.trifuel.com/ and thought it was a great set of tips for the beginner swimmer in a triathlon.
For a lot of people getting started in Triathlons, the swim portion is the most difficult of the three disciples. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
10 Swim Tips for Triathlon Training:
1. Relax: Swimming when done properly is a smooth and fluid. It’s hard to be smooth or fluid if you’re tense. One of the best ways to relax is exhaling. Everyone remembers that they need to inhale when their face is out of the water but some forget it’s also import to exhale when your face is in the water.
2. Learn to Breathe: Let’s face it, even if your technique is flawless, if you can’t breathe your not going to be able to swim very far. Turn your head to the side to breathe. Don’t pick your head straight up, when you lift your head your hips sink and this creates drag.
3. Work on Good Body Position: They only way to get faster in the water is to increase force and/or reduce drag. Reducing drag is the easiest of the two and one of the best ways to accomplish this is by working on good body position in the water. Again your head controls your hips. Keep your head down when you’re swimming and keep your hips and feet close to the surface of the water.
4. Swim on your side: When you take a stroke you should be rotating to your side. By rotating you reduce drag in the water and make your pull more powerful, because you are engaging you core muscles instead of just using your arms.
5. Play Golf: Probably not the kind of golf you’re thinking. Swim one length of the pool. Counted the strokes you take and time yourself, then add the two together (ex. 21strokes + 18seconds = 39) lowest score wins. The idea behind this game is to work on distance/ stroke without sacrificing speed. Once you’ve gotten your lowest score ask yourself, “is this a pace I can hold for a long period time?” say 10-15 minutes if you’re training for sprint or maybe even over an hour if you’re training for an ironman.
6. Don’t just swim: All too often when I ask people what they did for their swim practice they tell me they swam for 30, 40 or however many minutes. They have no idea how far they swam or at what pace they were swimming. Work on drills, long continuous swimming, and timed intervals
7. Share a lane: Whether you’re doing a wave start (group start) or a time trial start (one person at time) at some point during the swim you’re going to have people around you. By sharing lanes with people you become more accustom to things that are going to happen in open water. Such as getting bumped, getting splashed when you breathe, and having someone swim right beside you. The more you practice it, the easier it will be on race day.
8. Sighting: This should be the only time you lift your head while swimming. Every six to eight strokes lift your head to make sure you’re still on course. You can do this by using landmarks, such as trees, houses, buoys, etc.
9. Practice Open water swimming: This goes back to the old saying “practice makes perfect”. Swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. In open water, you don’t have a black line on the bottom to make sure you’re swimming straight, you may have to deal with waves or a current, and you might not be able to see well due to sun or fog. The more you practice open water swimming the more comfortable you’ll become and the easier it will be.
10. At the end kick it in: The last 100 or so yards start kicking a little more. You’ve spent the entire swim using mainly upper body muscles. By increasing your kicking cadence you’ll get more blood flowing to your legs which will make standing up and jogging to the transition area a lot easier. It should also help warm your legs up for the bike.
Written by Kyle Joplin. For more information visit: http://www.trioptimumperformance.com