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Triathlon Swimming Advice For Every Level

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Feb 18, 2014
  • Updated Mar 16, 2014 at 7:08 PM UTC
Photo: Kevin Thompson/TriRock

You are… Lacking perfect technique

You can swim 400 yards without stopping but could use some technique pointers.

„Biggest beginner technique flaws:

Crossover at entry. Not only doesn’t this propel you forward (it moves you sideways), but it is a very common cause for shoulder problems. A correct entry sets you up for a strong and powerful stroke by using the bigger muscles in your back to do the work.
Fix it: Keep your hands wide at entry. “I like to see a swimmer’s thumbs enter along a line that extends from the outside edge of the shoulder,” Sheanin says. “If you stand at the wall and place your hands on the deck like you’re going to pop out of the water, that’s usually the correct width.”

Non-propulsive kicking. Many triathletes have weak kicks, often stemming from inflexible ankles. Focus on dialing in your kick first—it not only propels you forward, but it also creates lift and helps rotation.
Fix it: Incorporate vertical kicking into your swim workouts. Swim 4×50 with 30 seconds of vertical kicking at the end of every 50. Keep your hands by your sides and eventually work up to your hands above the water for 60 seconds at a time.

Under-rotation. Your hips will stay flat in the water, which often makes breathing as well as arm recovery difficult.
Fix it: Do the six-beat switch drill (explained on previous page).

Bad head position. You look forward down the lane instead of looking at the bottom.
Fix it: Keep chin tucked and eyes down. “Think about the way a soldier stands at attention—head is neutral on the shoulders with eyes straight ahead. Use this same position in the water,” Sheanin says. Want a challenge? Hold a tennis ball under your chin.

RELATED: Swim Technique Focus Workout

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FILED UNDER: Getting Started / Swim / Training

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a senior editor at Triathlete magazine, a five-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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