Triathlon Swimming: How To Swim Straight
As triathletes we spend hundreds of hours every year working on our swimming to develop our swim fitness and our stroke technique, trying to chip vital minutes off our race performances. But what if I were to tell you that many triathletes lose all that time, and more again, by neglecting a critical part of our swimming skills? Triathlon coaches have always lectured about how important it is to swim straight in open water so that you don’t lose valuable time swimming off course.
It’s always been very hard to quantify and provide swimmers with a real sense of how important this is – until now! Here at Swim Smooth we’ve been equipping swimmers with GPS tracking devices under their swim caps to see how straight they swim – or don’t swim – in openwater triathlon races. The results are quite remarkable. Let’s take a look at a typical result; one of our swimmers Dan Taborski’s swim at the Busselton half- Ironman. We used Google Earth to plot out the path taken by the GPS unit he was carrying during the race.
The gps data tells us that Taborski swam 350m further than a straight-line course during his half-Ironman swim, costing him around seven minutes! Needless to say, Taborski was very disappointed when he looked at his watch and saw his swim split – he’d trained extremely diligently for this race and ended up much slower than he knew he was capable of swimming.
Taborski’s tendency to swim off course is extremely common, and this is by no means an extreme example. The ability to swim truly straight in open water is very rare and our data shows that the majority of triathletes lose minutes at every open-water swim.
Your ability to navigate your way round a swim course is very important, but there’s something even more fundamental at play here: your ability to naturally swim straight without veering off course. In this article we’re going to give you some drills and techniques you can use to develop your stroke so that you naturally swim much straighter in your races. Integrate these drills into your pool training and you’ll find your open water swim splits will drop with no extra effort on your part.
Swimming in a straight line is all about being aligned in the water so that your hands enter and extend straight forwards, with your body remaining tall and long. Let’s look at four drills and techniques that help you develop this aspect of your stroke.
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