Triathlon: Start to Finish
Triathlon: Start to Finish
Drills and Workouts
It's now time to talk about the drills and workouts specific to each discipline. Since we're assuming you have a solid triathlon background, most of this should be review.
Swimming is the most challenging discipline of the three in the area of technique. As we mentioned earlier, the best favor you can do yourself before launching into this program is to learn how to swim correctly. Swimming classes, triathlon camps, seminars like Terry Laughlin's "Fish-like Swimming" workshops, and Masters swimming programs are almost necessities for those coming into long distance training without a good swimming background. Videos are another option. Check the Resources chapter for information.
The race clock is not the only thing to be concerned with when finishing the swim at a long-distance triathlon. For most of us, performing well in the swim means getting out of the water having used as little energy as possible. With lots of hard biking and running on the to-do list, every calorie spared is precious. Greater efficiency is your goal when it comes to swim training.
When in doubt, favor technique over speed. Throughout the 24-week program, we'll ask you to continue to drill yourself on the basics and to continue to monitor your form. Here's a description of the basics:
Kick with your arms at your side. Focus on keeping the body in one plane of water... press the chest forward to help keep the hips up, keep the head down (do not bury the chin, however). When you need a breath, roll to one side or the other, take the breath, and then roll slowly and smoothly back to your stomach. For most people, this is the hardest of the freestyle drills to master.
Kick on your side. Keeping your chin, cheek or ear into your shoulder and your right arm outstretched in front of you, kick on your right side. The left arm rests on your side, with your left hand on your hip; your left arm will break the surface of the water. Follow the same pattern on the left side of your body.
Kick from side to side (S2S). Starting on one side, do a series of 6-9 kicks with your legs, then recover the arm resting on your side to the top of your stroke and meet the other hand (known as catch up) and pull through to the other side.
Catch-up (C/U). Without any pause at the back end of the stroke, pull one arm through a complete stroke cycle and have one hand meet the other prior to starting the next stroke cycle.
Cheating Catch-up, also called FREESTYLE or SWIM - The actual swimming style we want to see... the end result. Just as the left hand passes the head, start moving the right side of your hip to the other side, and begin pulling with the right arm. The left arm should enter the water before the right arm is more than one-third of the way through its pull.
It's important to maintain horizontal body positioning in the water while rolling from one side to the other. Breathe to the left as you pull your left arm, and to the right as you pull your right arm. If you need additional breaths before rotating from one side to another, that is fine. Just try not to breathe as you recover one of your arms.
Focused drills need to be part of every swim workout, because it's more important to swim efficiently than to swim fast. Every bit of the energy you save in those first 2.4 miles will be needed later. Masters Swimming programs and workshops like Total Immersion will help a lot.
Swim Technique Checklist
Looking down and slightly forward. Water level between c