Simple techniques that don’t need much more work can increase your open water triathlon swimming speed and help you reach transition and the bike in record time.
It’s time to concentrate on improving your swimming speed for your triathlon races once you’ve successfully made the switch from pool swimming to open water.
Here are six quick tricks to speed up your swim leg without exerting a lot of extra work, helping you get off to a great start in your triathlon.
Check out our advice on preparation for Swimming lessons for Singaporeans on open water swimming in the pool and acclimating to open water to keep the chill at bay before taking the plunge if you’re completely new to swimming in open water or returning after a period away.
Put on your wetsuit correctly.
This may seem obvious, but we frequently witness athletes at competitions who are delayed in the swim because their wetsuits are still being put on. Your suit can generate additional restriction and drag in the water, from sagging neoprene between the legs to stretched-low collars where they haven’t been pulled up, not because it’s the incorrect size but because it’s not on properly.
The suit should be pulled up at the waist so that it fits tightly against the crotch, worked up at the front so that the collar sits where it should, and given plenty of material at the shoulders so that it fits snugly under the armpits.
Check out our How To Fit Your Wetsuit Properly guide for more detailed wetsuit fitting advice.
Extend your healing
Any amount of restriction caused by the extra few millimeters of neoprene over the shoulders and underarms can slow you down, regardless of how expensive a wetsuit you have.
With a bent elbow and your hand “zipping” along the side of your body before stretching out in front to spear the water for the following stroke, this is the typical pool swimming technique for the recovery. However, if you observe professional triathletes swimming in open water, you’ll notice a significantly wider recovery, a barely bent elbow, and an arm swinging out to the side.
This not only results in less “punching” against the confines of your wetsuit, but it also facilitates our next suggestion and helps you manage choppy conditions.
Boost the rate of your strokes
Swimming outside is very different from swimming in a pool because of the waves, currents, surface choppiness caused by wind, and the large number of athletes swimming nearby.
Due of all the movement, it is more difficult to make an effective catch in the manner you may have practiced while following the black line indoors. The propulsion you can provide over a given distance can be increased by raising stroke pace because you’re likely to be grabbing less water with each catch.
The secret is to increase your stroke rate without sprinting to a complete stop. Due to the final portion’s restricted propulsion in open water, this can be accomplished by either decreasing dead patches and any overgliding in your stroke or by starting the recovery sooner in your stroke. In any case, keep your attention on making a solid, effective catch.
Increased sighting effectiveness
To prevent swimming more than necessary throughout your race, sighting is crucial. Typically, there are two methods to sight: sight first, then breathe. One way might be simpler for you than the other, or you may decide to combine both and use one on each side.
Regardless of how you sight, there will always be some disruption to your normal stroke. To determine which sighting technique may be the most effective for you, practice sighting in the pool and even time yourself while you continually swim the same distance at a steady speed while sighting.
You may easily determine which sighting techniques are most detrimental to your technique by watching a video of yourself sighting or having a colleague athlete look at it.
Put your chin down.
There is a propensity to keep the head raised while swimming in open water because of all the sighting that is required. In addition to slowing you down by lowering your legs, this can also lead to an imbalance that causes you to veer off to one side and swim farther than necessary.
When you return to your pool-honed technique with superior rotation for straighter, quicker swimming, you can do so by lowering your chin back to neutral in between sighting strokes.
Accept the draft
Every triathlete has to practice swimming with others since finding a good pair of feet to draft off of can cut your swim time by several minutes.
Someone who is swimming a little bit faster than you will make the best target for your drafting. To avoid following someone off course or exerting excessive effort merely to keep up with them, stay near but be aware of your sighting and your effort levels.
Finding a large group of swimmers to draft behind will dramatically reduce your effort, so looking for both the buoys and surrounding swimmer groups will put you in a perfect position to relax through a quick swim and save your energy for the cycle.