Adventures in Triathlon

Multisport as art and science

What I learned from a swim coach this morning

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I had a 5am swim session with tri coach this morning. I had originally planned to join a coached training group she offers but for practical reasons I couldn’t do that program. Instead I scheduled this swim session to learn her stroke drills and have her evaluate my stroke. Next step I will work with her on a custom training plan for a month. We’ll go from there, but her next group training session may work out better for me logistically.

I was a swimmer as a kid in the summers, probably for about 7 years, so I am comfortable in the water. I like to swim, but in past years my swim training has been extremely limited. To the point where the majority of my swims in a year were at the races themselves! I KNOW that my bike and run will benefit by more time in the pool, just because the swim won’t tire me out as much. As the coach put it this morning “the swim is just a way to get to the bike, and the bike is just a way to get to the run, but the race starts on the run.” Yeah, see that’s my big problem. I am a slow runner! But that doesn’t mean I can’t also improve on the swim and the bike.

And improve I will! The coach gave me several useful pointers on my stroke form, body position, and timing. She said that I won’t get much faster on the swim, but could definitely gain some efficiency and ultimately see benefits in my overall race times.

The main things I learned and that I will be working on in my practices are:

1. I tend to look forward as I swim (which is common in pool swimmers versus long-distance open water swimmers). I need to keep my neck completely neutral, basically looking straight down instead of slightly forward. This will give me more efficiency and allow me to have a more complete shoulder rotation as I swim.

2. I sweep my arms across my body during my pull instead of scooping the water straight below my body. I recall this as the form I was taught so many years ago, and I can totally see why it’s wrong! With my head in neutral position (see 1.) I should be able to watch my hand as I pull through. The coach pointed out that by sweeping my arm along my body I’m not moving the water as much because the water right by my body is already moving.

3. I have pretty good rotation already, but it’s definitely an area to focus on. I should be rotating my body as I stroke and BEFORE I turn my head to breathe. She gave me a drill to work on the core strength required for proper rotation (which tends to deteriorate as you get tired on a long swim).

4. The coach showed me how to break my stroke pull into 4 quadrants. She explained that I should be swimming in the front quadrant mainly. That means my recovery arm should enter the water while my pull arm is still in the first quadrant. Now I understand what catch-up drills are for! Cool!


Written by lieberwoman

January 27, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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