How Do I Improve My Triathlon Swimming?

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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2014
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Considered among the hardest endurance competitions for multi-sport, the triathlon is a challenge for even the most hardened triathlete. The event consists of swimming, biking and running, and can be competed in at three different levels: the sprint distance, with a triathlon swim of 750 meters; the Olympic distance, with a swim of 1.5 kilometers; or the ultra distance, with a swim of 3.8 kilometers.

The open water swimming in the triathlon is done freestyle. Various swim training and triathlon swim coaching methods can help to improve your triathlon swimming. This type of triathlon training will help to keep you in shape for the other events, and will improve your speed and energy while competing in the sprint, Olympic or ultra triathlon swimming legs.

When engaged in a triathlon swimming event, be sure to focus on hand entry. Keeping the hand at the goggle line when taking it out of the water during the stroke will allow a swimmer to drive it into the water more quickly. Bringing the arm out of water farther will force too much airtime and less efficiency in the stroke. Keeping the head down during the entire length of the swim will also allow an efficient triathlon swimming athlete to use less energy moving the head from side to side.


With the head down and the hands entering the water at the goggle line, the swimmer should also pull the hands all the way back past the hip before bringing them up. Pulling the hands as far back as possible gives maximum pull and allows for more energy coming forward. The swimmer can also allow for more energy by minimizing the kick as much as possible, maintaining balance and conserving energy for the more important parts of the stroke.

When working on triathlon swimming, a swimmer should keep away from maximizing speed and keeping up with the pack until the proper stroke techniques have been mastered. Practicing at a slower pace will allow the swimming to perfect each part of the stroke until they can gradually build to a quicker pace. One such practice to work on is keeping the arms straight in front of the body during the stroke. Keeping the arms straight will keep them from crossing over and pulling in diagonal directions.

It is also important during triathlon swimming training to maintain a feel for the water. A serious swimmer should enter the water at least every other day to maintain the muscles needed for the exercise. One practice to work on during light days can be breathing exercises, taking a certain number of strokes between each breath and increasing this number as your endurance increases.


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