As a long time runner, it has been incredibly enjoyable to start training as a swimmer. It has been very rewarding to see myself improving with continued practice and with the input of coaches who are able to observe and correct my swim technique. In learning a new sport it is obvious that there is the need for learning correct technique. A non-swimmer would never just jump into the water and hope that with enough thrashing around, they will miraculously learn prize-winning form. For the more experienced swimmer it is still essential to set aside time to focus on perfecting technique. An inefficiency in technique will hinder performance in swimming more so than in any of the other triathlon sports. Of all the sports, there is the greatest expenditure of energy in swimming over a set distance. Water is nearly a thousand times denser than air, with the water creating a huge amount of resistance for the body to push through. We are naturals on land – running being something we have done from the moment most of us could get up on our two feet. We do not naturally have the shape or instincts of fish to move ourselves gracefully through the water (unless you are Michael Phelps!).
In training for multiple sports, I need to ensure that I am not wasting any energy in poor, inefficient form. I am training for an event that will take me across 3.8 km of water, swimming; 180km of road on the bike and then 42.2km of land running. I want all my energy going forwards to get me to that finish line. Time to ensure that my technique is smooth and seamless and all my precious energy is being used to get me to my goal!
Triathletes often think that simply working harder and trying more will make them faster. This strategy does not work in the water – thrashing about can make one slower! Inefficient form will dramatically increase the drag in the water. To improve on swimming, learning how to streamline your body position will greatly improve swim times. According to “the Triathlete’s training Bible” by Joe Friel, scientific studies have found that reducing drag has the potential to produce greater gains in swimming than improving aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
Time to get to a swim clinic and have an expert watch and record your swim stroke and start working on becoming more streamlined in the water. Reduce the turbulence around the body and start cutting through the water gracefully and effortless, conserving energy to go the distance with speed and style.
I will be attending a series of swim clinics with Wolfgang Guembel and reporting on the valuable information I gain through this practical series. Even better – join me if you are able, at the swim clinics and have an expert critique your stroke and do a thorough video analysis on your swim technique.
This is the first article in a series on good technique, starting with swimming. I look forward to reporting all the valuable information that I gain in the upcoming weeks. The first clinic is on Friday January 23rd at the Boys and Girls Club in Niagara Falls. Check out details at Aktiv Life.