6 Swimming Hacks for Triathletes

6 Swimming Hacks for Triathletes

Love or hate swimming, it’s a necessary part of training for a triathlon. Here are six ways to get the most out of your training with the least stress.

When it comes to swimming, some of us love it, while some of us aren’t big fans. But as triathletes, swimming is something we all have to embrace. From mixing things up to using resources wisely, here are some simple tips to make sure you make your time in the pool as productive as possible.

Mix it Up

While there are pros and cons to swimming with a group (club, masters, or coach-led session) versus swimming on your own, I am a firm believer that the swimmers who progress the most are those who do a mix of both. On your solo sessions you can focus on your technique and pace, and in a group setting, you’ll typically push yourself more to keep up with or get away from your nemesis.

Have a plan

Don’t just head down to the pool and make your workout up as you go – you will most likely just spend a lot of time chatting at the wall. Get your coach to outline a specific swim set and either write it down or print it out (small plug: all of the sets in my training plans come with an easy-downloadable, print-friendly option).

Once on paper, see below for a cool trick I use to make sure I don’t have to think too much during a set (I’m not great at multitasking!).

Step 1: Bring your session details with you.

Step 2: Dip gently in the water.

Step 3: Paper now easily sticks to a pool lane board for ease of view and reference.

Keep Track of Your Laps

Personally, my biggest problem while swimming is my wandering mind. This usually results in a mild panic mid-set about where I am in the workout. To keep myself on track, I have invented the pool abacus (patent pending) – all you need are two pieces of swim kit (paddles work best) and a pool grill. See below:

Step 1: Pack your trusty swim gear

Step 2: Line up swim grills at start.

Step 3: Use rungs to keep count (e.g. the pic above would show 3 x 100s completed)

Know Your Pool Etiquette

This applies equally to swimming in a group or swimming by yourself, and includes simple rules such as placing yourself in the correct lane based on your pace/ability, giving people space, and drafting correctly. If not adhered to, you might find yourself holding up another swimmer or slapping their toes off. More importantly, you will end up swimming at the wrong pace (either too fast or too slow), which reduces the benefit of your session.

Use Your Resources Wisely

When swimming in a coached or masters session, make sure you ask questions. Politely ask the coach what he or she thinks is your biggest limiter before the session. This should allow them to take note of your stroke and give feedback after the session is over. Once you have that issue prioritized, get drills to fix it and build them into your warm-up sessions. In a few weeks, once you feel on top of your “limiter,” ask your coach to review and hopefully help you move on and fix your next issue. Rinse and repeat — there will always be something to fix!

Remember to Cool Down

Even if you’re crunched for time, you need to cool down correctly. For swimming, this is not only about getting your HR down — it’s vital to ensure you do some backstroke or breaststroke (if you don’t know how to, take time/lessons to learn) to ensure you are not overloading your freestyle muscles.

Steven Moody

Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 15 years of endurance racing including numerous IRONMAN finishes and world championship qualifications Realising this fact, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full time coaching. Steven is now Ironman University, Triathlon Ireland and Training Peaks level 2 certified and in 2017, was awarded Triathlon Ireland Coach of the year. Browse his pre-built training plans in training peaks by clicking here or if you have queries on personal coaching/training plans you can contact him via info@smartendurancesolutions.com