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Posted by on Feb 2, 2011 in FYI, Swimming, Technique, Triathlon

Why It\’s Important to Know How to Swim In a Pool.

As a strong swimmer, a consistent question that I get from people I give tips to is, \”Why do I need to know how to have good turns/underwater push-off\’s/etc. in a pool when my race is in open water?\”. Here\’s why.

Most triathlons, though far from all, take place in some form of open water like a lake, river or ocean. The reason that I think it\’s so important to know how to workout in a pool well has a few reasons.

The first reason is because, during any event cycle (including training and the race itself), you will likely spend MUCH more time in the pool than you will in open water. During that training, if you\’re taking a ton of time doing some odd variation of a turn, you\’re doing something that you will not be doing on race day at all. You will not have a wall to hang on to in open water, nor will you have a nice floor to stand on. That said, learning to turn and not wasting time with a slow, laborious turn, will help you immensely. I\’m not saying you need to now go learn how to do a flip-turn (although it certainly wouldn\’t hurt!), just how to do a proper open turn. Below I\’ve put a wonderful video that explains proper open turn technique.

Second, when pushing off of the wall, whether from a turn or at the beginning of a set, push off and glide UNDERWATER. Too many times I have seen the push-off on top of (which is to say through) the water, causing a massive splash and stopping the swimmer after about five feet of glide. A solid underwater push-off will give your body a few seconds to do the following: find a rhythm for your kick, find your balance in the water and compose yourself before you begin swimming again. This underwater push-off will also keep your breath under control and keep you from hyperventilating.

Finally, there are some races where the swim takes place in a pool. If you have good pool swimming skills this will give you a leg up on a lot of those around you and allow you to be a better, faster triathlete.

[UPDATE] Many of you who may be thinking you should just skip this because you\’re a runner or just not a swimmer, stop, take a second and read it.

If you\’ve ever been injured as a runner then you know the joys and boredom of aqua-jogging. This mind-numbing exercise is one that can keep you in shape even when you need to be mostly off your feet. On top of that, swimming in general is an incredible cross training exercise. No other sport uses your musculature as completely. Do yourself a favor and get in the pool. If you\’re not a swimmer and feel like you\’re going to drown, watch a couple people who know what they\’re doing and then fake it \’til you make it!

2 Comments

  1. Swimming, wish I could be better at it. Living in NYC it is tough to practice a lot. Great post.

    • It is tough in NYC. I’m here too! I workout at Bally’s at 50th & 8th. Of course, I’ve been swimming since before I could walk, so a lot of this stuff is second nature to me. You should try Riverbank!

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