Triathlon Tips - How to Conquer the Swim

by Pool Builders on 09-10-2009 in Articles

By far, the majority of athletes in the sport of triathlon have some reservations about the swimming portion of their race. Let me just say as a "good" swimmer, I have reservations about it too! You're crazy if you don't.

The swim is a challenge for a number of reasons, not least of which, is that the swim can dictate how the rest of your race goes. If you have a lousy swim you may have troubles getting back to your original race plan mentally. If you have a great swim it will set you up for a great race.

No matter how well you swim you still have to deal with the pre-race jitters, all of the contact during the swim start, and the shear exhaustion of the event.

So what can you do to improve? Here are a few tips:

- Get confident in your swim: Get a swim coach to look at your form and give you feedback. Your approach here should be to focus on improving one or two major flaws in your stroke and then refine it. If you or your coach has access to an underwater swim camera, this can do wonders for trying to fine tune your stroke. It helps if you can actually see yourself swimming and get a visual of what you are doing wrong.

- Practice your swim start: After a short warm-up in the pool (or other venue), let your heart rate return to normal then go hard for 100 - 200 yards/meters before settling into your race pace. This will help you get used to racing as you will usually go hard for a while before settling into race pace.

- Practice sighting: You should swim in the open water (lake or ocean) whenever you get the opportunity. When you don't have lane lines to see where you are going you have to rely on sighting to make sure you are swimming in a straight line. Once in my groove, I sight every 16 strokes. I literally count my strokes during my race to make sure I'm sighting frequently enough and it takes my mind off the pain!

- Swim blind: Another good drill is to practice swimming with your eyes closed. Please don't try this when there are other swimmers in your lane because you will probably go off course. This will help you understand which arm is most dominant in the swim. Understanding this will help keep you going in a straight line while racing.

Of course, there are many more things you can do, but this should be a good start for you.

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