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Things Every Triathlete Should Embrace About Swimming

Adam Nakada

Swimming is often the leg triathletes dread the most. It isn’t like running or even riding a bike—you can’t just get up and do it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t master the technique and turn that weakness into a strength. Keep these five things in mind the next time you hit the water, and try out the subsequent workout to put those theories into action.

A Fast Stroke Rate Does Not Equal Speed

However, it does equal exhaustion and inefficiency. Picture this: You're riding your bike, and you start climbing a big hill. To make it easier, you pop it in the easiest gear. Suddenly, you're spinning out of control and going nowhere fast. You are pedaling like a hamster in a wheel but making very little progress because there's not enough resistance on the chain. Your legs are moving like pistons and your heart is beating like a drum, but you're barely making it up the hill. What do you do? Well, you have two choices. You either find a harder gear with more resistance (to slow your pedal stroke down), or you fall over.

Swimming is similar—minus the whole falling over part (we hope). A fast stroke rate does not guarantee speed if you're not catching the water every time your hand enters. To get the most distance per stroke, you need to feel resistance on your forearms and hands, often known as the catch. Slowing your stroke rate down will actually make you a faster swimmer because you will feel the push against the water instead of slipping through it.

Exhale When Your Face Is In the Water

Stop holding your breath! Beginner swimmers have a tendency to hold her breath when their face is in the water and then struggle to both exhale and inhale fully when they come up for air. Not only does this often lead to bad form (lifting the head to get more air causes the hips to drop), But it’s also downright exhausting and won’t need to efficient endurance swimming.

When your face is in the water, focus on exhaling the whole time. You may even want to audibly blow bubbles when doing so as a verbal reminder. Blow your hair out slowly through the mouth or nose, and when you do need a breath, rotate slightly and focus on relaxing in Hale. The constant pattern should simulate any other aerobic activity. Think about it this way: you don’t hold your breath when you run or bike, so why would you do that in a swim?

Swimming with Others is Part of the Deal

Beginner swimmers are often apprehensive about sharing pool space and circle swimming with other athletes. It’s not because were pretentious or self-centered. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Many adults from where the traffics are incredibly self-conscious and into needs to be around others we don’t want to feel like were in the way or slowing a lane mate down. Scoring our own lane is how we think we should remain courteous. Except in the world of swimming,  not sharing a lane isn’t courteous at all.

Sharing lane space and circle swimming is part of the deal, and there are certain rules of adequate to follow. It’s OK to pass someone if you let me touch her foot. Do you want to leave partner passed you, you can also stop relieve the wall and allow them to hop in front before the next light. Just make sure you communicate with each other during rest breaks. Sure and close space of other swimmers is also valuable practice for those open water triathlon. If you have to share a body water with hundreds of triathletes, you may as well practice the feeling in a more organized fashion.

For Adults, Swimming Isn’t Always Intuitive

You’re probably thinking “tell me something I don’t already know you’re probably thinking “tell me something I don’t already know!“ If you go up swimming as a child, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Kids who learn how to swim young will always have that innate “feel” for the water. They learned technique at an early age before questions and self-consciousness reared their ugly heads.

Why is swimming so frustrating? Simply put, it’s not natural for a human to behave like a fish. We’re born to walk, run and breathe on land. Swimming can make us feel  uncoordinated, like a literal fish out of water.

Swimming is also one of the most technique driven sports, and involves a certain “touch” to be both powerful (fast) and graceful (in alignment). That’s ultimately what we’re seeking in the water, right? Power and speed with a touch of beauty and balance.

If you’re not already being coached, seek out a local swim instructor. They will assess your stroke and provide tips and drills to make corrections. Remember, you can’t change everything overnight, and good coaches will only give you one or two things to think about per session.

Have Patience

Enough said, right? Consistency is king with any new skill. If someone handed you a canvas and paintbrushes and said “Paint me the Mona Lisa”, you’d scoff at such a lofty request. Well, remember this: Swimming is a sport, but it’s also an art. Treat your swim practice like a masterpiece that takes time.

Things Every Triathlete Should Embrace About Swimming

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