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How to Swim Faster in Triathlon: Techniques and Training Tips

Congratulations on embarking on your triathlon journey! Whether you’re a novice or have some swimming background, enhancing your swim speed is vital, especially when juggling multiple sports. In this guide, we’ll delve into key strategies to boost your swimming performance, focusing on refining your technique and optimizing your training.

Technique: The Foundation of Speed

Experts in swimming and triathlon emphasize that technique contributes significantly to swim speed—about 70% according to many coaches. Therefore, refining your technique yields the most significant improvements in performance.

Reduce Drag: To minimize resistance in the water, focus on streamlining your body. This involves:

  • Optimizing Body Position: Ensure your body remains aligned to minimize drag. Avoid swimming “uphill” by keeping your torso and legs streamlined.
  • Streamlined Hand Entry: Enter the water smoothly with your hands, reducing frontal resistance.
  • Correct Arm and Hand Placement: Maintain a high elbow position during the stroke to reduce drag and maximize propulsion.
  • Eliminate Wrist Bend: Keep your wrists straight to minimize drag.
  • Maintain High Elbows: Prevent dropping your elbows during the stroke to minimize resistance.

Increase Propulsion: Efficient propulsion involves maximizing the power generated from each stroke:

  • Focus on Pulling Water Backwards: Mimic the motion of rowing, ensuring your hand pushes water towards the back of the pool, not downward.
  • Bend Elbows: Opt for a slight bend in the elbows during the stroke for increased propulsion.
  • Optimize Stroke Rate: Increase your stroke rate while maintaining efficiency.
  • Perfect Timing: Coordinate your strokes to achieve front quadrant swimming, maximizing forward propulsion.

Training: Building the Engine

While technique forms the cornerstone of speed, training is essential for developing endurance and speed:

  • Structured Workouts: Incorporate warm-up, main set, and cooldown into your swim sessions.
  • Variety of Intensities: Include intervals of varying speeds in your main set to improve race pace.
  • Benchmark Testing: Perform benchmark tests to gauge your speed and track progress.
  • Example Benchmark Set: 5x100m fast with 20 seconds rest to determine your baseline speed.

Putting It into Practice

To translate technique refinement and training into tangible results, focus on:

  • Consistent Practice: Regularly practice drills to refine technique and incorporate diverse intensities in your workouts.
  • Track Progress: Monitor improvements in speed and efficiency through benchmark tests and race simulations.
  • Balanced Approach: Continuously strive to enhance technique while gradually increasing training intensity.

Improving swim speed is a journey that requires dedication and patience. By prioritizing technique refinement and structured training, you’ll enhance your performance and conquer the swim leg of your triathlon with confidence.

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