Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Improving Your Swim

It's the first Tuesday of the month, and in addition to it being Tri Talk Tuesday, it's also my birthday!  YAY!  I'm quickly getting closer to being firmly ensconced in my mid 40's.  I certainly don't feel like it most days and apparently I don't act or look like it either.   I'm totally ok with that, ha.

Anyway, on with the business of today's post.  I'm linking up with my absolutely lovely fellow Tri Talk Tuesday ladies, Courtney and Cynthia to talk about my least favourite of the three sports; the swim, and how you can improve it.

Of the three sports, I'd have to argue that swimming is the most technical.  Moving efficiently through water is much more difficult than moving efficiently through air.  At least that's been my experience.  I've had to put in a fair bit of work to improve my swim, most of it focused on technique.  In order to really improve you have to understand what your body is doing (or NOT doing) in the water.  So, without further ado, here are 3 tips to help you improve your swim stroke.

1. Video Analysis with a swim coach.

Yes, this is probably going to be pricey ($100++) but it will be worth it.  Swimming is all technique so to have someone point out what you're doing wrong and show you how to correct it is one of the best ways to improve.   This won't be an overnight fix, it will take some time and effort as you'll have to practice what you learn.   If you don't want to spend the money, you could have a friend video tape you and compare it to video of an efficient swimmer, like Andy Potts.   You should be able to see what you're doing differently and work on correcting it in the water.  

2.  Swim with a Group

I think this applies to all three sports but I found it especially helpful with swimming.  If you can, join a Masters swim group.  Or a triathlon swim group.  Swimming with other people gets you comfortable with having people around you - very important in the swim start of a triathlon.  I've also found that I push myself that much harder when I'm swimming with others than I do when I'm swimming on my own.   I also didn't have to think about my workouts, they would be written up and posted on the board so all I had to do was swim.  I improved a lot when I started swimming with a Masters group.

3.  Mix it up.

Don't just swim freestyle because that's what you're going to swim in the race.  Learn some other strokes and work them into your swimming.  I've found that by learning fly and doing it from time to time really helped with my freestyle breathing as well as pull strength.  Doing other strokes also gives your muscles a bit of a break from the repetitive motion of constant freestyle.  I make a point of doing back stroke and breast stroke during my warm up and cool down.  Sometimes my coach actually has us doing them in the workout. 

Are there any other tips you'd add to this?  What's worked for you?  



Kelli said...

Spot on comments! I agree with all of them. And surprisingly enough I now love the butterfly. I have this fantasy of finishing the last 25 yards of an open water swim by doing the butterfly towards swim exit. Would make for a good race photo ;)

Courtney@The TriGirl Chronicles said...

Number two, yes! Swimming regularly with my tri club was easily the biggest help and best choice I made in regards to my swimming.

Amanda said...

I agree with the video analysis. I had this done a long time ago but I need to get it done again. It's always so strange to see yourself at first! But it really does help.

Unknown said...

We do a lot of back stroke, which is my least favorite one because I zig zag all over the darn lane!!! But yes, nothing gets you faster than swimming with a group. Otherwise, it's just so hard to keep that intensity for a whole workout .... at least for me.

Krysten Siba Bishop said...

LOVE this!! I need to get back in the pool, I haven't down a swim workout in the LONGEST time!

Victoria said...

I need to get into the pool. I've signed up for a try-a-tri and then a sprint in the summer and other than parent and tot swimming, I haven't been in the pool! I've been looking for a class to join though.

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?! said...

YES!!! Swimming with others has helped me so much!!!

Phaedra Kennedy said...

Kelli - OMG I would LOVE to see someone do that at a race!!!
Courtney - swimming with a group is awesome. It helped me immensely.
Amanda - me too. It's been a long time but we now have someone at my masters club that will do it so I'm going to get that done again.
Christina - ha ha, me too! I'm really lazy when I swim on my own. I don't push myself at all.
Victoria - yes, time to get in the pool!!! :)