In 1986 I competed in my first triathlon at the age of ten in Clermont, FL. A few swimming buddies of mine were the ones that invited me to give it a try. The kid’s race was a 100m swim in the open water, a 5k bike, and a 1k run. It took me approximately 17 minutes to complete and I won my ten-year-old age division. I must confess that there were only two other ten year olds in the race, so we all received medals! It was at my first race that I realized I had an advantage over some of the other competitors because I was a good swimmer. It is important to get experience swimming at a young age because as you get older, swimming is the most difficult discipline in triathlon to learn.
Here are a few tips to focus on when swimming in the pool.
Tip #1: Keep your head in-line with your spine. Think about having the top of your head pointing at the other end of the pool. Make sure your eyes are looking at the bottom of the pool when you are not breathing. Proper head position is very important because it affects your overall body position.
Tip #2: Initiate your body rotation from your hips. Good swimmers use the core of their body – hips, abs, and lower back – to rotate from one side to the other. Your hips generate most of your power. This rotation from side to side is the most efficient way to swim as you cut through the water like a knife.
Tip #3 - Learning to breathe bilaterally is key to developing a symmetrical swim stroke. If you learn only to breathe on one side of your body, you will have poor rotation on your non-breathing side. This will lead to an inefficient swim stroke. Learning to breathe every 3rd or 5th stroke helps balance out your stroke with equal rotation on each side.
Practice these tips during your next swim practice. If you aren’t already involved with a swim team, join one. Swimming is so much fun especially when you practice with others. Remember the better you can swim, the better triathlete you will become.