From Rock to Fish

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Training Swim - By An­gela Naeth

The­biggest gains I’ve made in my triathlon ca­reer have been in the swim. With my back­ground as a com­pet­i­tive run­ner, the longer dis­tance run of the 70.3 came nat­u­rally, and ad­vances on the bike seemed to build on my run. But I wasn’t al­ways a swim­mer. It’s taken a few years to get my swim faster and I cer­tainly have more to learn. Al­though I taught swim­ming lessons to young kids while in high school, I now know that what I taught them was wrong.

Over the years I’ve had a num­ber of one- on- one coach­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and have been a mem­ber of a va­ri­ety of swim squads from north­ern B.C. to Boul­der, Colo. Here are a few tips and tricks that have helped me be­come the swim­mer I am now.

Swim Squad

1Find a group that you en­joy swim­ming with. Swim­ming is the most dif­fi­cult of the three sports for me to do on my own. I find it hard to stay mo­ti­vated. Hav­ing a group that you meet a few times a week will help you stay con­sis­tent and hon­est with your ef­fort. Even if it’s just you and your friend, swim­ming with oth­ers makes get­ting through work­outs more fun, but also makes you ac­count­able.


2The more days I swim in a week, the quicker my times get. The same can be said for any sport, but time in the pool helps your body gain con­fi­dence in sim­ply feel­ing the wa­ter. Aim for three times a week as a min­i­mum ( par­tic­u­larly if you have no swim­ming back­ground).

Stroke Anal­y­sis

3Once I had the ba­sics of swim­ming down, I needed to fine tune my swim stroke. I hired a coach who spe­cial­ized in swim me­chan­ics to eval­u­ate my swim both un­der and over the wa­ter. You can do this your­self with a friend and a video cam­era. Once you have a vis­ual of what you’re do­ing un­der­wa­ter, try cor­rect­ing only one as­pect of your stroke at a time. The key is to know what you’re look­ing for. I’d rec­om­mend hav­ing a very ca­pa­ble swim coach be­gin this process with you.

Mix it Up

4I love but­terf ly. I of­ten add a few lengths of fly to work­out for a men­tal break and a phys­i­cal chal­lenge. Throw­ing on a set of fins also adds a new di­men­sion to your swim set and rein­vig­o­rates your work­out.

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