It is funny to see how triathletes swim, especially us in the slow lane. After having breaststroked my way through my first triathlon season in 1992 I learned to swim freestyle in Thisted Svømmeklub, so I was in many ways brought up as a swimmer (10 years too late to ever get really good), not a triathlete, in the pool.
And it shows. Not that I’m fast or anything, but rather in the manners and attitude towards swimming I have.
Triathletes are generally very fond of swim gear. Fins, pull-bouys and paddles, and, curiously, snorkels are very popular. And I generally avoid all that, because I think gear masks my errors, making it harder to learn it right.
Last friday I did 4×200 free + 4×50 kick with fins, just to try. It was just small swimmer fins, not like the ones divers use, but the effect was still profound. They made it easy to swim the 200’s that I would normally struggle with. It was fun feeling speedy, but I really should stay away from fins for a while and limit myself to 100’s and 50’ies. Better learn it right, than lean on a crutch.
Learning it right, mindful practice, is paramount in swimming. If you spend enough time learning the perfect technique you will have spent enough time in the water that your swim specific strength and flexibility will be pretty good as a side-effect. Don’t swim hard, swim right. The rest will then almost take care of itself.
And I can’t help but think whether a lot of triathletes that struggle with their swim aren’t basically sabotaging their efforts with all the gear they use?
Not that swim gear is bad, it’s just that until you have the basics right, you’d better avoid it. And I think at least the slowest 50% of the swim field in a triathlon should work more on the basics in swimming, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Myself included.
Well, I’m off to the pool. To work on basics.
Addendum: Didn’t get this posted before I went swimming. Had a great swim:
- 4×100 warm up
- 4×(50 right arm, left arm at side, breathing left + 50 alternate side + 50 catch-up + 50 fists)
- 4×50 kick on the side, no kick-board
- 100 max test (1:33! Not bad for me in a 50 m pool)
- 200 cool down
I contemplated doing a 400 max test too, but it would’ve taken too much out of me. The right/left arm alone drills breathing to the other side are evil. Got reminded of that drill by Scott Curry’s video blog. Will definitely do more of that.