Adam Walker demonstrating the 'Ocean Walker' swimming technique
Training > Swim

Swimming technique: 9 common mistakes

Triathlon swimming coach Annie Oberlin-Harris explains 9 common mistakes triathletes make in the swim and advice on how to correct them

 Believing you're not ‘strong’ enough to swim in the arms and back muscles

Once you can feel the water well with a good catch technique, get a good body position and can sustain a good level of effort in the water then you’re onto a winner. Have you seen the size of elite triathletes? Swimming freestyle over a long distance at a good pace is about finesse not power.

What muscles do you use in front crawl?


It doesn’t matter what you can bench press if your legs are dragging along the floor and you blow up after 50m. Muscling it might come more naturally, but scrap the gym and use your precious training time more effectively by just getting in the water and swimming more often. If you are the typical Arnie Swim Type, try and control your natural inclination to muscle it in the water. Stretch more, switch on your feeling and try to work with the water not against it. This really is the only way and will help you stop seeing the water as the enemy!

6 Obsessing over technique: Learning skills slowly and not doing hard enough training sets

Technique is only one part of the triad in improving your swimming (the others being training and open water skills). It’s very important to make sure your technique is efficient, but are your training methods? Some swimmers actively try and slow the skill down in an effort to improve their learning. You’d never run in slow-mo to learn proper form would you?

Technique training is generally swum in your lower aerobic zone, or an effort level of 3-4 out of 10. You don’t race at this intensity, so once you’ve got the hang of the drills up the ante and put some more effort into it. We’re not looking for steam to come out your ears, but get that heart rate elevated to stop denying yourself an opportunity to boost the training effect of this session.

Continue reading our guide to 9 common swim mistakes (5/6, fault 7)


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