THE ROCK TRI CLUB - Rock Hill, SC

Home
Membership
Tri-101
TRI - 201
POWERADE TRI THE ROCK
TRIATHLON - AOC
TRI AT BAXTER
Calendar
Training Tips
Tips - Introduction
Swim Tips
Bike Tips
Run Tips
Strength Tips
Nutrition
Transition
Race Prep
Physiology
Policy and Procedure
Coaching
Links
Pictures
Race Schedule
Weather
Contact Us
Sponsors
TRI CLUB TOPICS
Swim Tips
 
Intro
Unless you were on a swim team as a kid, swimming is probably the event you fear the most.  Understand that most people have the same concerns as you, and that with some dedication to your development, it is easy to make swimming your strength.  Practice and the eyes of a coach are the key to your development.  With some early guidance to identify the weaknesses of your stroke, you can be confident that you are reinforcing the correct techniques when you practice. 
 
Fear of Water
The idea of a triathlon swim, whether it is a mass start in open water, or a pool swim with racers just seconds behind you, it's not uncommon to be afraid of water.  The key is to become comfortable with swimming.  You won't be afraid of the swim if you care comfortable with your ability to do it safely and confidently.  Here are some suggestions for increasing your comfort in the water:  
  • Practice - if you spend time in the water, you will improve.
  • Goggles - a good pair, that fits, and doesn't leak, gives confidence.
  • Have fun - spend time floating and playing to remind you that swimming is fun.
 
Streamlining
There's a reason swimming makes you tired.  Water is heavy, and hard to move in, unlike the resistance you feel from air while biking and running.  The best swimmers are the ones that move through the water the smoothest, without extra resistance or motion.  A streamlined body, a smooth stroke, and a tight kick, all work together to decrease the amount of water you have to move through.  A simple exercise to illustrate streamlining and the effect of water resistance is to experiment pushing off the wall with your body and arms in differnet positions.  You'll quickly find a position that you feel is the most streamlined. 
 
The vertical position in the water is one of the most significant errors which could be easily addressed. Many people try to swim with their head up. The problem with swimming with this is as a person’s head goes up, the hips and feet drop. This creates a lot of drag in the water. To streamline the body in the vertical position, the head should face straight down at the bottom of the pool thereby keeping the head in line with the rest of the spine - the shoulders and hips rotate together and at the same angle. It is common to push down with the stroke not through and back - this lifts the upper body and drops the hips. For breathing, the body rotates on an axis from side to side with each arm pull. To get a breath, the head should only slightly turn to the side for a breath without picking it up - it is natural to want to go vertical. One way to practice this is to kick on the side with the submerged arm extended and the ear resting on the shoulder and then practice taking a breath by rotating rather than lifting the head. Wearing fins could assist with the propulsion during this drill.
 
The horizontal position is an area to watch as well. Here, the imaginary rod is coming out of the top of the head and is running straight through the body, marking the centerline of the body. To keep from having a side-to-side motion in the swimming, the hands should never cross the centerline of the body - from the time the hand enters the water all the way through the pull. Crossing the centerline of the body as the hand enters the water is referred to as overreaching. If the centerline of the body is 12 o’clock, the hands should enter the water at 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock. Using a pull buoy could help tell if you are overreaching during a swim drill. When using a pull buoy the side-to-side motion of the body will become more noticeable. Pay attention while swimming with a pull buoy and adjust the stroke to streamline swimming.
 
The basic stroke - freestyle
most likely stroke to use, most efficient for long distances, boat, oars, rudder, focus lon long, relaxed smooth strokes.
 
Flip-turns
simultaneously tuck, roll, exhale, flip, push, roll, streamline
 
Etiquette
Lane-sharing, tap feet, peeing in pool
 
The Top 10 List
1.  Practice
2.  Practice
3.  Practice
4.  Do catch-ups & fingertip drag for arm drills
5.  Kick on your back for leg strength
6.  Press your chest for horizontal position
7.  Swim over the barrel for arm position during your pull
8.  Enter smooth and catch
9.  Swim open water
10. Learn alternate breathing
 
References:
 
http://www.totalimmersion.net/ - very popular training tools
"Going Long", Joe Friel and Gordon Byrn