Firstly i chose the swim animation above right because the timing of stroke/kick is close to right for the 2 beat kick. can you pick what is wrong with it?

Here is a link to a better animation but do come back.

If you already understand what will get you swimming fast, then it will be obvious the head is too high. The head should be tucked right in such that the chin is not far off the chest.



Swimming and why it is important in triathlon.

-Swimming uses all the muscle groups so is good for increasing an individuals metabolism.

-Don't underestimate the cross-training benefits of swimming ; i.e, try to swim at least five times/week for at least 30-60mins.

-A swim background leads to good training ethics. The body needs some exercise to kick into action for the day and swimming first thing with a squad acheives this. For me the earlier in the day to start exercising of any type the better(first check you are recovered from the previous day*).

-The swim is essential for a good start in triathlon(sometimes you will need to be in the front cycle pack in drafting races).

-The above said, I spoke with one guy(three times world champion), who didn't come from a swim background. It is useful to have a strong swim background as a youth but it isn't essential.


* An easy way to check you are recovering is by recording your resting heart rate every morning when you wake up. If this resting heart rate is higher than usual(say 5-10beats/min above normal resting average), you are most likely not fully recovered.


Check this technique video by Dave Scott:








Swim skills. mmmmmmlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllmmm



Firstly I will state that the best way to learn to swim is by getting in the pool and being coached. The option to get coached is available in most larger cities and is open to all ages(usually). Part of my background is swimming close on 22mins three times over an official 1500m course in 2003,(achieved by getting quite swim fit without a coach or swim group). Maybe I swam faster over other distances around that time, but times aren't always easy to ascertain in triathlon.

I grew up on a farm so the option of having regular swim lessons as a kid wasn't really there. Did however get several instructions as a kid on swim technique. In my first years at university I went to the local pools regularly and taught myself by reading swim techiques from several sources.

Below are some notes on swim technique. The piece titled ' The Three Stroke Phases of the Front Crawl' was put together as an exercise for a one year diploma I completed in 2005. Couldn't type or use a computer before that course either so got some skills out of the teaching diploma.

It was also written to try and help me progress my swimming further(but also got a few pointers from coaches in recent years). So now it is published for people who maybe in a similiar situation to what I was(little access to a swim coach/squad).

Since it was written I have looked into the body roll and kick techniques a bit more with help from a guy who swam a 16min(flat) 1500m in a pool. He showed me the 2 beat kick technique and from this I could see how the body roll comes into play. I actually have developed a 6 beat kick which is quite common and also should alow an effective body roll(assuming the co-ordination/technique is right). Have found giving an extra force to a certain one of the kicks in the six beats helps in the whole roll/forward propulsion also. And the young guy described above agreed with my observation of a Michael Phelps world record swim; which was that in a part of his front crawl technique(one completed stroke), he gets more speed. The coverage on television including underwater shots is incredible and can't do any harm in the whole subliminal learning/perfection of technique.

A study of Ian Thorpe's swim stroke here:

You will have more video clip options by clicking the little button with the triangle on it in the above player.


The best video of Michael Phelps is at this link. It couldn't be embedded outside of YouTube.


To add to the above paragraph I did watch very closely the fastest swim ever in an ironman(Germany), which was completed in around 41mins(the guy did finish the ironman to make the record stand). It was very clear on television and I was surprised to see that he used a two beat kick for the first 35mins or so. It was only in the last couple of 100m's that he actually upped his kick rate(to 6 beat?). I do try and incorporate some 2 beat kicking into my swim sessions as an exercise, and to try and get the feel of the roll. It is fair to say he wasn't about to win the ironman, so to say his technique is most suitable for ironman may not be true.

So there is alot more to swimming, a coach is neccessary in this sport as is the group(squad) training for top results. No doubt there is more than one technique which gives top results.

My other favourite training methods is to occasionally lengthen the catch part of my technique and count the number of strokes to finish a length.

The whole shoulder rotation and stretch of the large back muscles is something else I like to focus on. When swimming distances of more than 1km hard, I even like to change the emphasise from the shoulder muscles to the large back muscles(slightly). Only do this towards the end of the swim and will be interested to ask a swim coaches opinion, about this.

I also try to use different muscle groups on the bike by moving backwards and forwards on the seat (do push the heel of my foot to the back of the shoe in peddling revolution occasional to reduce the pressure on the toes also).And run training(shortening the stride at times). . These techniques to help train other muscle groups and leads to balanced muscular development(I believe). Another example is accentuating the knee lift on gradual inclines during run training. The above are some ways I try get balanced muscle development and reduce fatigue in training/races. For longevity in the sport a few periods of gym work(could be done at home) will be required, and believe it works by helping muscle balance, to a large degree.

Obviously training using bilateral breathing is going to help develop an evenly balanced stroke, but some unilateral breathing is also good in my thinking. Unilateral breathing is going to be helpful in open water swimming as often waves or bright sunlight can be avoided by breathing to one side only.


The Three Stroke Phases of the Front Crawl.

These 3 propulsive phases are the catch, mid pull and finish.

The Catch.

The palm should enter the water in line with the shoulder and should face slightly outward on entry. Your forearm and upper arm should enter the same place as the hand entry. The arm is extended forward as you roll this shoulder forward and down. This will engage the large latissimus dorsi muscle of the back. Lifting the opposite shoulder high out of the water at the same time adds further to the streamlining of the body. On your outstretched arm bend at the elbow and press fingers hand and forearm(fhf), firstly down to hold the water and then backwards.

The Mid Pull.

As you pull the fhf structure towards your midline, the elbow will move gradually closer to the 90 degree angle. The hand changes pitch slightly during this in-sweep in order to catch more water, so as not to slip(like climbing and underwater ladder).

The Finish.

Push your hand as far back as you can towards your thigh. Your hand will move outwards as it moves back and this will complete the “ S “ shaped underwater pull. This will engage your triceps muscle, and as it tires you may find yourself shortening up your exit point . To be aware of this exit, rub your thumb nail against your thigh to maintain the same extension. The palm should exit the water facing the opposite end of the pool.



Your hand should be relaxed during all phases; was told it is less effective to squeeze your fingers together, but now on am focusing on keeping the fingers together as it feels like I can 'hold more water'.
Turning your head sideways to breath should be incorporated into your body roll. The head should move smoothly to the side just enough to take air, while the arm opposite the breathing enters the water and roll back(as the arm is in the in-sweep).
During the recovery phase(hand out of water), the hand is directly below the elbow, and then it takes over leading the recovery. Keeping the arm straight throughout the recovery phase is the alternative and there is said to be little difference to swimming speed. The former maybe more efficient.
All the time you should been kicking, with your ankles fully extended.

And when you have all the above sorted, you can think about rhythm and feel in the water.



The above said, I am going to be a bit short on swim mileage going into this ironman(such is life). A new local pool in Queenstown has been in the pipeline since before 2003 and won't be operational before this years Wanaka Ironman, so its cutting down my options at the present time. Tried to coerce a mate to do a hike on the Remarkables ski field this weekend for a bit of untouched snow, but he didn't go for it. Won't be doing it, but like cross training(swimming is at the back of my mind, in the present climate). Have revised my sub 60 min swim time target to around 60mins.





Notes from my swim at 'Challenge Wanaka'.mmm kkkllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllkkmmmmmmmmmm


Held back in the swim and completed it in 60 mins 23sec. Felt like I was holding back but was probably going the right speed for the day ahead. There was no starting hooter so the last call was 10 secs and after waiting more than that, everyone just took off. Swimming in this beautiful clear lake was one of my most enjoyable swims ever. Didn't feel like getting out and wouldn't mind doing a race that had a longer swim and maybe a shorter bike/run.

Did stop twice in the swim because my swim cap had become loose. The first stop I pulled it a bit but not enough as was worried about my goggles coming off. A bit later at about half way I stopped and sorted it by pulling it tight with both hands on either side. The caps were very generous in size an one woman from a team told me after the race of her cap coming completely off in the swim(resulting in 57min or so of having hair swirling over her goggles).

Water temperature was very nice(just right for me), at 18.6 degrees celcius.

Myself(starting to look back to see if anyone is coming in behind).









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