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Technique for Intermediate Swimmers – Part 2

Bilateral breathing.   At the intermediate level, breathing effectively on both sides is an essential skill. Bilateral breathing means alternating breathing pattern from the left to right every third, fifth, seventh stroke. Bilateral breathing gives your stroke symmetry and balance and helps with navigation in open water. But, any pattern of breathing to both sides works as well. For example, alternate breathing to the right for a 25, then to the left for a 25. Or, breathe for five strokes on the right, then five strokes on the left. Strictly adhering to breathing every third stroke can leave you oxygen deprived. When swimming faster, breathe more frequently. When stretching it out and swimming easier, breathe less frequently.

Intermediate level gear. Some new gear to add to your list: fins, paddles, pull buoy and a snorkel. The fins help with leg propulsion, ankle flexibility and support doing drills; pull buoys aid leg flotation so you can focus on arm propulsion and efficiency; the snorkel helps improve lung power, breathing comfort and drill execution without having to turn your head to breathe. Paddles are fantastic for helping with pull strength and power, but only use them when your pull is relatively efficient. Otherwise, you will reinforce bad habits without knowing it.

Dives and flip turns. Learn to dive with goggles on. The critical skill to focus on is keeping your chin glued to your chest with arms reaching overhead. Flip turns are faster, but can take a while to learn; a great skill to start learning in the off-season. You’ll need to do several thousand to get the technique to become automatic. Flip turns help with breath control and continuous swimming needed for the open water.

Triathlon race prep workouts. Here are three main set sample workouts to work on triathlon specific skills:

  1. Breath control and lung power. 10×100 breathing every 3, 5, 7, 3 strokes by 25.
  2. Variable pacing. 6×200 as alternating 50 fast/50 steady aerobic.
  3. Prepare for a fast start. 3×300 as: 100 sprint/200 race pace. Followed by 400-800 pull with paddles and pull buoy.

Open water skills practice in pool. Get a jump on the challenges of swimming in open water by practicing some of your skills in the pool. Open water usually means dark water with sighting and navigation above the water. Sight breathing technique is one of those critical skills to practice in the pool: pop your eyes (only) forward and up to take a quick peek, turn your head to the side to inhale, head down to exhale. First get the basics of the technique, then pick smaller and smaller objects to sight on and swim toward in the pool. Getting in the open water as much as possible will help you overcome any anxieties and dial in your navigation and sighting. Make this part of your weekly swim training as conditions allow.

Contact Coach Mantak

Technique for Intermediate Swimmers – Part 1

One of the great challenges of the sport of triathlon is balancing experience, expertise and fitness across three individual sports, then combining them into a single, three sport event. The swim can cause anxiety even for the seasoned triathlete. Keep working on your weaknesses; turn them into strengths to grow your fitness, competence and confidence. […]

How to Practice Open Water Swimming in the Pool

For the majority of triathlons, you’ll be swimming in open water. This is typically a source of anxiety and fear for many athletes as training for the open water is often limited. While not perfect, it is possible to do some of your preparations for race day in a pool! Here are some drills and […]

Race day warm up: does it really make a difference?

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Blog Post: Find a Wetsuit that Suits You, Part 1

As a coach, I’m often asked questions about wetsuits. In the early days of triathlon, a wetsuit truly was an optional piece of equipment. More and more, it is becoming a required piece of equipment. To the most basic questions: Do I really need a wetsuit? Will a wetsuit make me faster? I respond: it […]

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Blog Post: Off-season training and activity

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In my racing days, ice baths were THE non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical option to speed recovery after a hard training session or race. My running coach told me to do them and I really felt they helped me recover faster and decrease muscle soreness. In the past 10 years, studies are starting to show that ice baths […]

Open Water Swim Training, Part 2

In part one of this blog, I gave an overview of open water swim training. Part 2 gives you all the tools and training you need to gain a competitive advantage in your next race: drills and workouts. Plan to get into the open water on a regular basis through the summer. What does this […]