3 Instant Triathlon Swim Technique Fixes
It’s no secret that most triathletes are the least comfortable with the swim leg of the race. You may splash around every summer, but unless you were a competitive swimmer, freestyle swimming for 30 minutes—or more—can be a daunting task. How can you get out of the water with energy to spare for your bike and run?
Easy: A few simple technique fixes can make you a drastically more efficient swimmer. “When your technique improves, your efficiency improves. It feels easier, and people have a tendency to think they’re not going as fast. But the more efficient you get, the less energy you're wasting,” explains Erica Sheckler, co-owner of musclemorphosis.com and a USA Triathlon level 1 coach and US Master Swimming level 2 coach.
Here are three form tweaks from Sheckler to help you glide through the water:
Kick from Your Hips
Do you kick in the water like you’re kicking a soccer ball? Stop. Kicking from your knees doesn’t propel you forward very well. Instead, keep your legs relatively straight and relaxed.
Drill it: Swimming with you belly button facing the right side, extend your left arm and place your right hand on your belly button. Make sure your lead arm is angled down slightly and is in line with your shoulder.
Relax Your Neck
Stand up and look ahead of you—that’s where your head should be positioned when you swim, too. Don’t look up or bury your head—both will alter your body position so you have extra resistance against the water.
Drill it: Keep a small ball, like a lacrosse ball, tucked underneath your chin as you swim. Think of swimming as tall as you can while holding the ball with your head.
Rotate Your Body
If your belly button always faces the bottom of the pool, you’re probably putting unnecessary strain on your shoulders. Rotate your torso back and forth as you swim—about 45 degrees toward each side—and you’ll automatically lengthen your reach and use more of your core to power you through the water. Make sure your arm and hands land directly in front of your shoulder—not crossing over to the other side or reaching out in a Y shape.
Drill it with: Side swimming. Start in the position of the kicking drill above, swimming on your side. Kick for a few counts. Then take three full strokes, ending up with your body facing left and your right arm extended. Repeat, switching sides every few counts.