The most intimidating leg for many, but also the area where you’ ll make the biggest time savings through technique. Commit to the crawl now–and invest in quality goggles
Train like a pro THE FOUNDATIONS
For most people, the swim is the limiting factor –but even if you can get the distance done, better efficiency in the water means you’ll save energy for the other two legs. That’s why, in the early going, technique improvements beat raw cardio prowess. “Find a group to train with, or get a few private coaching lessons,” says triathlon coach Ian Rooke. A dedicated tri coach is a better bet because tri swimming technique uses less kicking than traditional front crawl, conserving energy for the road.
Endless lengths aren’t the answer. “To improve on your speed I would suggest not swimming any more than 400m in one go,” says Rooke. “You need to maintain good form and technique throughout the whole distance, whether it’s 100m, 200m or 1,500m. To work on speed I would suggest swimming 100m efforts using a given ‘turn-around time’ – for instance, 10x100m off 1min 50sec means you’d aim to swim 100m in around 1min 20sec, rest for 30sec, and go again when the clock hits 1min 50sec. Aim to reduce the swim time and increase rest time.”
If it’s tricky to get to the pool, top up your training and build swim-specific strength in the gym. You’ll want to work on your shoulders and core for full-body efficiency, and you can use the renegade row to build both. Get into a press-up position holding a pair of dumbbells on the floor, do a press-up, then row one weight up towards your armpit, keeping your core tight and body parallel to the floor, then the other. That’s one rep. Aim for five sets of ten.
“Sighting, or following the buoys to stay on course, is as important as technique so practise it a head of time”