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Technique: One of Three Key Factors to Help Improve Your Swim Performance

by Stephanie Jamain 29 Jun 2017
triathlon swim technique

In swimming, there are 3 key elements that must be taken into account equally in order to make your efforts in the water effective.

  • Technique;
  • Development of aerobic and muscular fitness;
  • Specificity (open water/triathlon).

Omitting one of these aspects means your swim progression will be much slower and you will reach a plateau very quickly.

In this article (part 1 of 3), we will discuss technique.


The 4 main technical elements in swimming are breathing, kick, alignment, and catch

  1. Breathing:

    Over a long distance, continuous breathing is essential. Numerous swimmers block/hold their breathing, often unconsciously. The consequences are minor over sprint distances (50- 100m), but become much more important over longer distances. These include :
    • Shortness of breath and risk of hyperventilation, which often requires a stop;
    • Accumulation of oxygen in the abdomen which leads to an unbalance in posture: the upper body floats more, but the legs sink;
    • Risk of anxiety caused by the accumulation of CO2 in the body.
  1. Kick :

    Your kick is paramount for maintaining a good posture in the water. The goal is to have an effective kick, not necessarily a powerful one (you will “save” your legs for the bike and run!). In fact, only 10% of the power of the Olympic swimmers comes from their kick. Here are some points to work on to optimize your kick and, by the same token, reduce your drag:
    • Use the right muscles: the glutes and abs;
    • Make sure your feet are relatively close together, pointing back and angled slightly inwards;
    • Control the amplitude of your kick.
  1. Alignment:

    Alignment of the body is fundamental for swimming efficiently in open water. The crossover is one of the most common errors having the biggest impact on your overall swim (ex. catch in the wrong direction, “snake” effect, not swimming in a straight line, etc.)
  1. Catch:

    Put your efforts in the right place and avoid dead spots with good grip and traction. Exercises such as sculling and the doggy paddle allow you to develop your sensations and, above all, to understand where and how to find that sweet spot to place your hand in the water. Elite swimmers perform these exercises almost every training session to perfect their catch.

 For more information, visit the Swim Smooth Montreal website.

 Bart Rolet
Swim Smooth Montreal

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