NOT JUST FOR DIV­ING

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - SWIM BIKE RUN TRANSITION - BY CLINT LIEN

DON’T OVER-THINK THE ART OF SWIM­MING FAST. BREAK IT DOWN TO PO­SI­TION, PROPUL­SION AND MO­TOR.

You can have the big­gest mo­tor in the fleet with the best pro­pel­ler money can buy, but if you have poor po­si­tion then you’ve got a slow boat. That means, when it comes to swim­ming fast, you have to work on your body po­si­tion first.

Are you swim­ming up­hill? Do you wig­gle in the wa­ter like a cheap lure? It’s likely you’ll an­swer yes, to some de­gree, to one of those if you’re hon­est with your­self and self-aware. (Swim­mers in the triathlon world who don’t need to work on their po­si­tion are rarer than white whales.)

There are tools (toys) avail­able that make the job of work­ing on po­si­tion eas­ier. Fins, an­kle straps and pull buoys are ex­cel­lent, but the pri­mary weapon in your arse­nal should be the swim snorkel.

When you use the snorkel along with other toys (or tools), you’ve got a pow­er­ful combo that will ad­dress most of the is­sues that lead to poor po­si­tion.

What does the snorkel do?

In essence, it re­moves the big­gest vari­able re­spon­si­ble for your poor po­si­tion – your head. When the head moves around it cre­ates prob­lems. In or­der to breathe, you have to move your head – un­less you’re us­ing a snorkel. With a snorkel you can re­lax your neck. Imag­ine your head is a soc­cer ball be­ing pushed along. With your chin tucked, your hips will nat­u­rally rise up. Now you can fo­cus on the tall, tight pos­ture nec­es­sary for strong swim­ming. Imag­ine a car­bon kayak ver­sus a kid’s rub­ber dinghy.

Watch a dozen elite swim­mers and you might see 12 dif­fer­ent strokes, but you’ll also count 12 tight, tall swim­mers who all have straight pos­ture and firm cores. They look like car­bon kayaks.

How to in­cor­po­rate it into your swim­ming

After you’ve warmed up with some easy swim­ming, make your first set a fins-snorkel ef­fort where the fo­cus is on that firm, swim­spe­cific core. Most triath­letes have tired legs as a mat­ter of course. Fins aren’t usu­ally that com­fort­able as you start, but after a few hun­dred me­tres most will agree they feel good – even re­cu­per­a­tive. The se­cret is not to kick too hard. Use the fins to pro­mote a good body po­si­tion – not propul­sion. With the snorkel you should be able to achieve that flat tight po­si­tion. Al­ter­nate be­tween kick­ing and swim­ming.

De­pend­ing on your swim level, you may do as lit­tle as 400 m or as much as 800 to 1000 m (see sug­gested sets for de­tail).

Fol­low up that set with 200–300 m with a pull buoy, strap and snorkel. Make sure you use the an­kle strap – too many swim­mers aren’t able to re­sist us­ing their legs to help move them along. Don’t swim this hard – fo­cus on that tall, tight pos­ture. Con­sider this as a chance to to pre­pare for your main set.

I gen­er­ally don’t in­clude fins or pull buoys in the main set, but there’s no prob­lem with keep­ing that snorkel close at hand. If dur­ing your main set you feel your body po­si­tion be­gin to sink, then grab the snorkel and rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.

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