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  • Writer's pictureCamille Chief Funlete

Beginner’s Guide for Improving Your Triathlon Swim

Updated: May 10, 2023

Quickie Tips to Improve your Triathlon Swim

Triathlete in Sprint Triathlon Swim Leg

If you're a beginner runner looking to become a triathlete, swimming can be a challenging component to master. Like many other beginner swimmers, you may encounter some common challenges and make some mistakes when training in the pool.

But don't worry - if you signed up for a sprint triathlon or training to swim a mile, with practice and guidance, you can improve your swimming form and avoid these common mistakes that affect your swim form and speed.

Ever swim the length of the pool and feel like you are fighting the water?

Or how about…your Garmin shows that the more you swim the slower you get?

Probably has something to do with these two common beginner triathlon swimmer mistakes.

Common Mistakes for Beginner Triathlon Swimmers

One common mistake for beginner triathlon swimmers is sinking legs, which can slow you down. To avoid this, focus on keeping your head in line with your body and looking down towards the bottom of the pool.

Guess what? Holding your head up too high can cause your hips to drop and legs to sink too!. Misalignment in your body can also happen when your hips sway or swing as you swim. To fix this, focus on keeping your head and body aligned and only rotating your head enough to take a breath.

It's recommended that you work with a coach or a US master’s swimming instructor to ensure that you're swimming with proper form. If you don't have access to a coach, getting someone to take a video of you can be incredibly helpful in identifying areas to improve.

Plan for Improving Your Swim for Triathlons

When learning to swim for triathlons, practice is key. Before focusing on technique and fitness, we suggest mastering two basic steps: being able to breathe to the side and keeping your head in the water, and ensuring that your freestyle arm stroke is catching and pulling the water, followed by your hand exiting the water and then returning to its entry point. When you master this - the first time - you will literally feel a zoom and a propel forward.

Once you have mastered these basics, you can work on getting faster with more swim drills, guidance, and workouts. Here are two beginner swimmer drills for triathletes to help improve your swimming form:

Kickboard Drill: Holding a kickboard in front of you with your arms straight, kick your way across the pool using only your legs. This drill helps improve leg strength and body positioning in the water.

Catch-up Drill: In this drill, you swim freestyle with one arm while the other arm stays extended in front of you. When the extended arm reaches the end of the stroke, bring it back to your side to touch the other arm before beginning the next stroke. This drill helps improve arm coordination and stroke technique.

Remember, with dedication and practice, you can improve your swimming form and accelerate you becoming a better triathlon swimmer.

Tips to Improve Your Swimming Technique

Improving your swimming technique is essential for beginners who want to become more efficient and faster swimmers. Here are some tips to help you improve your swimming form:

Body Positioning: Focus on keeping your body aligned and parallel to the surface of the water. This will help reduce drag and make it easier to move through the water.

Breathing: Practice breathing to the side instead of lifting your head out of the water. This will help you maintain a streamlined body position and conserve energy.

Stroke Mechanics: Work on developing a smooth and efficient freestyle stroke by focusing on proper arm and hand positioning, pulling motion, and body rotation.

Structuring Your Swim Training

Creating a structured swim training plan can help you progress your swimming skills and fitness level over time. Here are some tips to help you structure your swim training:

Frequency: Aim to swim at least two to three times per week to make progress. More frequent swimming can be beneficial, but be sure to allow for adequate rest and recovery time.

Workouts: Incorporate a variety of swim workouts, such as interval training, endurance sets, and technique drills, into your training plan to improve your speed, endurance, and form.

Progression: As you improve, gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts to continue making progress. Consider incorporating open-water swim training as you approach your triathlon event to get used to the different conditions.

Remember, it's important to listen to your body and progress at a pace that is comfortable for you. With time, dedication, and consistent training, you can improve your swimming skills and become a better triathlete.


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