Every triathlete has their strong suit as well as a discipline that causes concern. If swimming raises your heart rate, help is at hand.... quite literally. When competition is the name of your game, there is no room for wasted energy.
A good place to is start is with the thinking about the intention of each stroke. Try imagining you are pressing water backwards with every stroke, which, thanks to that old rule from physics class of “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”,will result in you being pushed forwards.Looking at it this way hammers home how any hint of pushing down, up or to the side is wasted effort.
FINIS engineers equipment to help athletes improve technique and get more out of training.
You can fast track this technique with FINIS Freestyler Paddles. They are specifically designed for freestyle training. The patented skeg design provides instant stroke feedback so you can make improvements every time you swim. The design also reduces shoulder stress by preventing hand entry crossover that causes shoulder injury.
FINIS swim equipment simplifies swimming || FINIS can help every triathlete swim better, faster and stronger.
Perfect technique is a good thing right? However, most swimmers know perfect technique equals hard work. The FINIS Agility Paddle is designed to help every swimmer, no matter what level, fine tune their technique every time they swim with them. Unlike traditional paddles, the Agility Paddle is convex and doesn't have any straps.
This paddle leaves no room for mistakes or excuses. The palm positive paddle will only remain in place if early vertical forearm position is maintained (commonly referred to by coaches as “high elbow catch”) making it a golden tool for coaches to teach good technique.
The FINIS swim scientists love getting into the dynamics of the design but basically the Agility Paddle is nothing short of genius, so much so it received the reddot design award.
Sounds awesome, and they are, but many swimmers opt for more conventional paddles because they don’t get the design and what it offers. The lack of a strap is in fact it’s secret weapon. Keeping the paddle in place means maintaining perfect technique every time you train.
Tools are one way to get race ready, developing the mindset to deal with open water swimming conditions is another. As Forest Gump's mum pointed out (nothing beats mums for solid advice) “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get” and the water will always keep you guessing.
Working smarter to lift your triathlon and multi-sport performance.
Open water swimming is a distant relative of pool swimming - like a cheeky second cousin twice removed. Open water is often colder, almost always cloudy with chop or waves and there are no sides, ends or lines to keep things tidy. So, first rule of race prep is spend some time swimming in open water before competing. You don’t have to replicate a course - out and back or a zip along the shoreline at your local is a great start. First check the tides, the best sea swimming slot is on or before high tide. Swimming too close to low tide means you can face more dangerous tidal streams on the return when energy is already lower. Also be tuned in to the message the weather is sending. If it is blowing a gale and the sea is a herd of white horses, cancel! It’s not worth your safety.
If you have time and access, consider joining an open water group. This will hook you up with expertise, support and motivation. Very experienced triathletes will kindly share knowledge that only comes from race experience - like in choppy conditions think about adapting to a high stroke, early catch and try to find a rhythm that works with the chop. Maybe favour one side or reduce your stroke rate but come up with a way to work with it. Don’t fight it - the water is always bigger than you!
If you find ocean swimming daunting, try using fins for extra flotation and a snorkel so there is air on tap while you build your confidence. Breathing in choppy water can be hard to adjust to and the Original Swimmers Snorkel will help remove some of that stress while you get the feel for swimming in different conditions.
The start of an ocean swimming events can feel a lot like the queue to get into a Boxing Day Sale! Consider moving to an area where you don’t feel boxed in or pushed. Ditching the pack means you aren't forced to swim at someone else’s pace.
Try to find a rhythm similar to your training pace and get your reach going. Being able to stretch out and hit a familiar tempo is the point at which many experienced triathletes will say they feel like they settled into the race. If it doesn’t come, stay calm and focus on breathing. Aim for consistent, deep breaths in and out. If your breathing is relaxed, your body and mind will follow.GO LONGER TO BE STRONGER
If your open water swim will be 800 meters, become good at swimming 1,000. Because there are no lanes and the pack can move off course, many open water swims end up being longer than the specified distance. Psychologically it also works wonders to know that you can easily do the race distance.
SIGHT YOUR TARGET
Swimmers struggle with how monotonous laps can be. Following the black line from one end to the other is taxing on the mind, body and soul. So you’d think it would be a blessing that swimming in open water scratches that persistent line but it also introduces the challenge of staying on course.
“Sighting” is where you lift your head periodically to fix on a point of reference. Most often that is a buoy in the water but veteran competitors swear a prominent landmark is far more helpful if there is one handy. The action isn’t natural and is out of step with stroke technique so it pays to practice.
It's also a good move to invest in a pair of good quality race goggles. Some swimmers swear by having brand new goggles on race days as they don’t fog as much as older ones. Bolt and Lightning competition goggles are comfortable, light, low drag designs that deliver fog-free vision and are built to withstand regular open water outings.
YOU NEED TO SWIM BEFORE YOU CAN RACE
It’s easy to let swimming technique slide when battling race nerves, conditions and the chaos of the pack. Try to block that out and focus on your form, breathing and tempo.
Keep your head down. Sure, you need to pop up for sighting, but don’t be afraid to put your face in the water and swim. It is the only way to have good swim posture and generate speed.
Lift your arms out of the water on the stroke. Focus on clearing the water as you reach forward and keep your elbows high. This means a stroke that won’t be the same graceful one you sport in the pool but it will get you through chop and churn and that is what counts.
Kick, but only a little. It’s not that you need to kick hard or fast, but kicking helps create the body roll that is part and parcel of good swim rhythm. Sometimes in rougher race conditions there is a temptation to kick harder with a bigger range of motion - resist the urge! This will burn a lot of energy for little gain.
Take time at every transition
Getting out of the open water is a totally different experience from exiting a pool. Watch for uneven ground for starters! The temperature change can also be a shock and swimmers often feel dizzy and a little off balance from choppy water and the more exaggerated motions of open water swimming. Take it slow and let yourself ease back onto dry land. Taking a few seconds now is better than risking a fall and sustaining a race-altering injury.