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The Triathlete Blueprint Newsletter #04- Most Overrated and underrated swimming tips

Updated: Aug 12, 2023


Read time: 3min

By Yan Busset


Triathlon swimming is, for a majority of triathletes, the most challenging discipline. When it comes to training, in the overwhelming amount of tips you can get, some are overemphasized while others are often overlooked.


This article explores what are IMO the most overrated and underrated tips in triathlon swim training. So you be able to focus on what matter.


Overrated:


Drills: Swim drills can look fancy on a training program, but they are useless if they are not prescribed with a specific purpose in mind. Your time is precious, and you don't want to waste it by doing drills because you saw someone doing them. Each drill has a purpose to improve or fix a specific element of your technique? So ask yourself or your coach the reason why and if it adds value to your own technique.



Smartwatches at the pool: It's great to be able to keep track of your training, but if you spend too much time trying to log your drills or stopping a few meters before the wall to reach the lap button, you are wasting your time. Keep it simple, use the wall clock if it allows you to swim more and stay 100% focused on your execution.


Breathing: Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that you should hold your breath for the whole race! What I want to point is that one of the first struggles of beginners is to get out of breath too quickly. Most of the time, this happens because the focus is only on breathing in and not enough on breathing out! You feel "out of breath" when, in fact, you have too much of it. Let me explain: Breathing in the water is the opposite pattern from breathing on dry land. Out of water, you make an effort to inhale, but exhaling is easy. In front crawl, your face is underwater when breathing out, so you need to make extra effort to expel the air from your lungs. Breathing in will be easy and short if you first breathe out correctly. It's a bit like your lungs would be sponges: First you squeeze it hard to chase water but when you release it it will suck water in with no effort. It's the same with your lungs and air. Emphasis breathing out and it will help you cover longer distances.


Underrated:


Volume: Because swimming is the discipline where you spend the least time during the race, some athletes tend to train it to the strict minimum, just to "survive" it rather than aiming to perform at it. You should not underestimate the swim part. The first reason is that triathlon starts with swimming, you don't want to start the day losing a lot of energy in the first battle. The matches you will burn there won't be available at the end of your run! Also, improving your swim will improve your race dynamic. Starting the bike with faster athletes will set your race momentum. Increasing your weekly swimming volume will also help to improve your core strength and respiratory capacities.


Wetsuit: When it comes to getting the right gear for the job, the money often goes first to expensive bike upgrades for marginal gains. Investing in a good wetsuit is underrated. A high-quality wetsuit will save you time and energy. It’s an excellent return on investment. It will also make your training more enjoyable, so you will find it easier to train more. An entrance model will take you from A to B, but because of the stiffness of the material, it will drain your energy.




Flip turns: You don't have to do flip turns in open water, so why should you spend time learning it at the pool? Learning to do flip turns won't only increase your cool factor at the pool, but it's the best way to make the distance you swim seamless, reducing the pause between pool lengths. So, it will make it even closer to a continuous open water swim. Not to mention the additional benefits of hypoxic training, holding your breath on each turns.


Summary:

-Spend your time in swim drills that are only relevant for you.

-Don’t use smartwatches in the pool if it’s too complicated. Focus on your swim.

-Shift your focus on exhaling rather than breathing in while swimming, it will fix your "out of breath" feel.

-Don’t train swimming to the strict minimum but have a sufficient volume to be fresh at T2.

-Invest in a quality wetsuit it will save you time, money and make your swims more enjoyable.

-Learn and use flip turns at the pool, it will make your swim intervals seamless.

Thank you for reading and see you next week!


 

Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:


1. If you are looking for support for your triathlon journey, I recommend you book a 30min 1on1 video consultation with me here.


2. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.


3. if you are in the Helsinki area and looking for the best training group check here



 

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