The backstroke is easy to learn and helpful to triathletes for multiple reasons. It counteracts swimmer’s “shoulder slouch” by engaging upper-back muscles and lengthening pectorals, it can provide an opportunity to calm breathing or clear goggles during an open-water swim and it breaks up monotony in the pool. Plus, kicking while on your back serves as good cross-training for major cycling muscles such as the hip flexors, core and quads.
Try these sets:
• 4×75 with 15 seconds rest (25 free/25 back/25 free)
• 1×600 [4x(100 freestyle strong effort/50 backstroke easy)]
• 8×50 on 1:15 (25 back/25 free) descend time 1-4, 5-8
Five technique tips:
1. Tilt chin up and look at the sky. This puts head and spine in good alignment. Do not look toward your toes, as it causes hips to sink.
2. Push hips toward the surface and maintain a steady up and down flutter kick. Keep feet just below the surface of the water. Do not rotate feet with the rest of body.
3. Hands exit the water thumb first and enter the water pinky first. This requires a slight wrist and shoulder rotation as a straight arm moves through the air.
4. Arms enter the water straight up from shoulders and do not cross the centerline overhead. Swimming backstroke in a straight line is difficult without following pool lines. Keep zigzags to a minimum with consistent arm placement.
5. The key to backstroke is good upper-body rotation with a motionless head. Try to roll your left shoulder to your chin as the right pinky enters the water and vice versa.