October 2007 Swim Training Chat

author : Tri Swim Coach
comments : 0

Question and answers on swimming strength challenges, is kicking important, 'runners kick' with ankle inflexibility and the usefulness of fins, pool buoys and paddles.

[Tri Swim Coach] Ok, tri people. Give me your #1 challenge you face with swimming- either stroke technique, open water, racing, whatever. Let's have some fun with it!

[D.Z.] Hmmm. That's a good one.  Probably general swimming strength.  Stroke power.


[Tri Swim Coach] Strength and power come from having proper technique, mostly. Many people think they should be doing weights or strength training to improve their swim. Not true in most cases. Usually it is some stroke flaw holding you back. I can't tell you how many triathletes I have seen who have a "runner's kick"- that is, their ankles are inflexible and actually create dragging feet, holding back their speed.

[D.Z.] I try to keep my toes pointed down. Should I loosen my ankles?


[Tri Swim Coach] If you have a runner's kick, try putting on Zoomers and kicking on your side. Also stretch your ankles.  Try sitting on your heels for greater flexibility.

[D.Z.] My understanding is that triathletes shouldn't do a lot of kicking.


[Tri Swim Coach] Do you mean in training or in a race?


[D.Z.] Both. Saving legs for other leg propulsion things like biking and running.
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Kicking does not give you much propulsion, even if you have a super powerful kick. The kick is there to help balance you in the water and help you rotate your hips. So when you kick, you should be kicking without a board, on your side (Zoomers okay here).  In a race, it's true you don't want to burn out your legs. However, you might want to pick up the kick a little towards the end of your swim - so that your muscles are warmed up for the bike.


[D.Z.] So the kick technique is to mitigate drag as much as for balance, correct?


[Tri Swim Coach] Well yes, for balance, and to help you rotate your hips as you swim.


[D.Z.] And those Zoomers with help me do that?

[Tri Swim Coach] Zoomers will help with ankle flexibility and proper kick, but I suggest only using Zoomers on drill and kicking sets.
 

[kaqphin] I was wondering what kind of workouts you recommend in crowded pools?


[Tri Swim Coach] Well I would avoid kicking sets since that becomes a nuisance to others! And doing repeat sets IS difficult.


[kaqphin] Anything more than swimming at everyone else's pace is a bit difficult...am I loosing the benefits of swimming?


[Tri Swim Coach] So I would opt for longer swims, working on counting your strokes (swim golf) and rotating your hips to bring down your stroke count and thus attain a smoother stroke.

[mike hall] Now that I am here, what's your take on fins for a real newbie swimmer?
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Mike, I like fins a lot.  Zoomers are a godsend for beginners. Learn to do drills while using the Zoomers. They will help you to learn proper
stroke technique and help your kick at the same time.


[mike hall] Cool then I shall invest...especially since I have North America's stiffest ankles...4 years running.


[Tri Swim Coach] However, I do not recommend fins for straight swimming.  Straight swimming= LSD- long, slow distance.


[mike hall] How about pull buoys?

 

[Tri Swim Coach] Pull buoys will do you harm!


[mike hall] May I ask how so?


[Tri Swim Coach] Buoys give you the sensation of being on the surface of the water when you should be working on that naturally, plus they will mess up your shoulders with too much usage.


[kaqphin] What about paddles?


[Tri Swim Coach] Paddles: I don't like most paddles, however, I do love the Freestyler from Finis. Those will help you to get the glide better if your strokes are too short.


[kaqphin] So with summer coming for me, am I better trying to swim at the beach whenever I can rather than the pool?


[Tri Swim Coach] As much as you can but the pool is still good for the drills, etc.

[D.Z.] I have a question, are sprints doing me any good? I used to try to end a workout once a week with a series of 50m sprints.  I'd try 4x50's at full speed.  I could do a 50 in about 36sec, and I'd recover for 24sec. Then another sprint.


[Tri Swim Coach] Yes, you will need to do a little sprint work to develop the ability to shift gears in a race, but don't overdo it.
 

[mike hall] Define 'over do' it.

 

[Tri Swim Coach] Mike- I mean don't do more than 5% of your workout distance as sprints.

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date: November 28, 2007

Tri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

avatarTri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

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