A triathlon is made up of three major activities, which are cycling, swimming, and running. Participants should complete all three disciplines for the competition to qualify for a triathlon. However, if you are a non-swimmer, you don’t have to worry. This article will guide you on everything you need to know about swimming in a triathlon.
You Can Learn How to Swim
The thought of training for a triathlon if you are a non-swimmer can be daunting. It is easier to hop on a bike and start riding or take off running. On the other hand, swimming may require one to learn how to swim and, most importantly, how to do it well and on time.
You should, however, not let the thoughts deter you. It is possible to train and acquire the required knowledge for a triathlon. When starting, you may need to work with an instructor. As you progress and become better, you can try to focus on avoiding being overwhelmed.
First, try to keep it as simple as possible. You don’t have to know any other strokes besides the freestyle. The different strokes will improve your swimming prowess, but the focus should be on how you will complete the triathlon.
You will need to learn distance freestyle techniques, swimming-specific endurance, and open-water swimming techniques. You won’t need to know start off the block, flip-ups, etc.
How You Can Train for a Triathlon Swim
You should train on how you plan to race the triathlon. First, get a competent coach or program to teach you about the fundamentals of the pool. This will enable you to get comfortable and learn to stay safe in the water. You will also build your fitness.
After you become comfortable in the water, you can progress the training out of the pools and into the open water. The open waters could be anything from a lake to a river to a pond or other water body.
You can start training with one person in the open water body. It should be a point that you can’t see or touch the bottom. As you build up your confidence, you should train with many people to get accustomed to getting hit and bumped, because that is what will happen in a real race.
How Many Times a Week Should You Train?
This will depend on many factors. Your comfort level and how much base you have, among other factors, will determine the number of times you train. Please swim a minimum of two times every week while looking forward to a triathlon.
However, swimming three or four times a week during the pre-season and off-season will be preferable. The two times are recommended since most people have other engagements. You can lower the swimming to two to three times a week as the season approaches.
During the off-season, you can train in a pool, improve speed, and work on a focused technique. As the season draws closer, you can do a single pool session weekly, focusing on speed and style. You can do the other two sessions in the open water.
Working on the Basics to Develop a Base
You will need to be aware of these fundamentals to propel yourself efficiently through the water:
- The position of your body should be aligned with the surface. These include legs, feet, and hips.
- You should maintain the stability of the body through repetitive movements.
- It would help if you timed a consistent breathing rhythm during the stroke cycle.
- Make a little kick with toes pointed/loose ankles.
- Make an arm stroke that extends furthest for the highest length pull.
Shaping Your Stroke
It would be best if you did not use more time than necessary in a swim to have enough energy for the next events. The freestyle technique will help you cover the highest distance in every stroke. It is referred to as the hip-driven freestyle.
The technique is aimed at evenly and deliberately distributing your energy. It combines aggravated stroke extension for hip rotation and reduced kicking. You will have to work on how you will keep your body on the surface and an asymmetrical hip roll.
Also, beware of movements that make you slower and more exhausted after the swim. Some of the movements that will exhaust you include dropping your feet/legs/feet and lifting your head very high to breathe. Just be relaxed, and you will complete the course with minimal exhaustion.
How to Deal With Open Water Environment
When you are well-versed in swimming in the pool, you can shift to the open waters. You can envision it as running on the trail rather than the track. You can make the following adjustments.
- Stop thinking about how deep the water is or why you can’t see the bottom because all that is irrelevant. You should focus on staying on the surface.
- Be vigilant of what is happening around you: the water conditions, other swimmers, and where you are.
- Don’t fear or try to fight choppy water. Try to work with the natural rhythm of the water flow.
- There will be instances when you won’t be able to take a breath due to water coming to your face. Keep calm and try again with the other stroke.
- Use wetsuits if they are allowed. The buoyancy will some energy that would have been expended on remaining stable.
Why Is Swimming Endurance More Challenging?
Many people are okay with running and cycling, but not so much with swimming. Your stamina may feel like it goes away when you swim, which is common. It can happen to the best cyclers or runners.
It begs the question: why is swimming more challenging to many than the other activities? The best possible answer is having low levels of technique and a hard time breathing properly. In simple terms, you are swimming such that the water fights back against you.
The application of force does not make one an efficient swimmer. All you need to master is finesse, and you will be good to go. Above all, don’t let swimming keep you from taking part in a triathlon. Be patient and open to learning.