Swimming – the discipline that strikes fear into many triathletes. But it needn’t be so if you spend time working on technique. Persist and it’ll pay off. Trust us.
To begin with, technique and your ability to maintain the stroke’s mechanics should be the focus of your training, as this will reduce drag. Less drag means more speed for less effort, which is the Holy Grail of swimming, not to mention triathlon.
Front crawl can be broken down into its component parts and worked into drills during your training. Drills involve specific movements carried out repetitively before incorporating them back into your stroke as a whole. For ease, break front crawl down into:
1 Body position.
2 Leg mechanics.
3 Arm mechanics.
4 Breathing and timing.
The drills outlined on the following pages are grouped into these elements and, when combined with the sessions (right), should ensure you swim like a fish.
These sessions have been designed for someone who is building up towards their first Olympic-distance triathlon, but could be adapted for any level. The sessions are focussed on building an aerobic base and improving technique. The sessions should be completed in four-week cycles so, for example, in weeks one to four follow sessions A-C (one session per pool visit). Make the sessions easier by dividing the distances in two, but maintain the same number of reps. Likewise, to make the sessions harder, complete the main set twice. Obviously spend more drill time on your weaknesses, but don’t neglect arms even if you have a good arm stroke.
Kick: Swim by kicking only; fins can be worn.
Pull: Swim using your arms only; paddles can be worn (especially in the main set).
Drill: Choose and carry out a drill from those outlined here. Descend Swim each rep a little faster than the previous. If it’s ‘descend through’, split the set up into mini sets and increase pace through the first mini set. Then return to base pace for the first rep in the next group before descending again.
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