Good Swimming Stroke Techniques - For Triathletes and Triathlons

by Pool Builders on 01-23-2010 in Articles

Stroke basics

Swimming is a very difficult skill to learn, especially as it forces breathing to be more conscious and synchronized. You need to get your stroke basics practiced, practiced and practiced again. It takes time and focused learning of each component of correct propulsion, breathing and timing.

Stroke elements

Swimming well is not all about how many metres you cover but what you do in those metres. Understanding what each part of the stroke is trying to achieve means that you know if you are getting it right or wrong. You cannot think about it too much as this results in paralysis by analysis. However, just focus on yourself and stay relaxed.


From the high elbow with relaxed hand recovery, the flat hand enters the water just ahead of the head and in front of the shoulder. The hand goes into the water, downwards with the forearm and elbow following through the same hole created by the hand. This results in a rolling over on to the side of the body.

o Wrong: outstretched with a flat forearm splash, reaching across your forward-looking eyeline or swimming with no body roll.


The palm must be turned back to face you, whilst still keeping the elbow high in the water. The hand is drawn backwards, pulling you past that point in the pool. The hand is looking to maintain pressure on the water and not slip.
o Wrong: pulling inwards to the other side of the body or letting the elbow drop early in the catch.


Continue with this pulling backwards of the hand just below or alongside the body. This continues until the hand is alongside the thigh, elbow still slightly bent and palm facing backwards. Some experts suggest twisting the palm inwards at this stage before recovery. The arm should accelerate through this phase from the initial slower catch stage. The opposing arm extends as the propulsive arm finishes off, causing a body roll.

o Wrong: pulling under the other side of the body, overextending the arm at the end of the press or failing to speed up the arm action through this phase.


From the end of the press, the arm has released pressure on the water and the elbow lifts the hand out of the water. The hand remains low, just above the waterline, as the elbow lifts forwards. The hand is relaxed with either the palm backwards or facing you. The hand then passes the head and is set up for a flat palm entry.

Your mouth.

Your mouth opens and you will immediately inspire (breathe in) with little need for you to take a heavy in-breath.

o Wrong: trying to both expire and inspire with your head out of the water, holding your breath too long or lifting your head too high to breathe.


As the metronome of the whole swim action, the kick needs to be rhythmical. Aim to initiate from the hip with the knee slightly bent on the downward action. On the upward lift, the leg is straighter Do not try to over-emphasize your kick; it should not be as propulsive as your arm action - remember that a triathlete also has to bike, then run. Eighty to ninety per cent of the event is yet to be completed when you exit the water.

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