Olympic Swimming vs. Triathlon SwimmingWritten by Kevin Koskella
While watching swimming events in Olympics last week, I started thinking about how different freestyle stroke is (or should be) for Olympic sprinters and amateur triathletes.
Many people in triathlon world think they need to just emulate Ian Thorpe to have a faster time, or have a similar stroke to Michael Phelps to cruise through swim. For most amateur triathletes, trying to learn from these swimmers is like trying to learn Portuguese when you really want to learn Spanish. There are similarities, but not enough to get you by.
Donít get me wrong- Thorpe, Phelps and many of their major competitors have some of best freestyles in world, and parts of swimming science are based on things these guys do in water.
The problem is, most of freestyle events in Olympics are actually sprints.
The 50 is over before you can blink, 100 is an all-out sprint, and 200 and 400 are both controlled sprints. The 800 is more of a middle distance event, while 1500 (mile) is really only pure distance swim in meet. So can we learn from mile swimmers at Olympics? Yes, a little. The swimmers generally have lower stroke counts, and arenít relying on their kick as much as sprinters. But those swimmers donít have to do a long bike and run after they swim!
So, they can put everything into their swim, and their strokes come out looking a bit different than what we are teaching beginning level, non-swimmer triathlete. Although we canít use a one-size-fits-all approach to freestyle strokes, there are many aspects I have pointed out that have helped triathletes all over world that donít come from a swimming background:
How to Master the Top 5 Challenges to Breathing in FreestyleWritten by Kevin Koskella
The most common question I hear in triathlete world about mysteries of swimming efficiently usually involves something with breathing. In freestyle, it is first step to get your body position right. Then, for many, you throw in breathing and everything goes haywire! This has to do with lack of balance, using your head instead of your core to breath, and a few other factors.
Here are top 5 challenges in learning how to breathe in freestyle, along with remedies on how to get over these:
1.Not Getting Enough Air. There are a couple of reasons this typically happens in freestyle. First, make sure you breathe out all of your air before you rotate to take a breath. When learning, some people try to exhale and inhale while they are rolling to side for air. There simply is not enough time for this! Your exhalations should only be in water in form of bubbles. At first timing may seem difficult, but eventually you will get used to it. Second, you may be sinking as you breathe. Make sure you are rolling to side to breathe, and not rotating your head and looking straight up. Practicing side kicking and shark fin drills, as discussed in The Complete Guide and in introductory 4-session online clinic you get by signing up for Tri Swim Coach newsletter will also help you with this challenge.
2.Extended Arm Sinks While Taking a Breath. This is mainly a balance issue. While you breathe to one side, your other arm should be extending. For many swimmers, this extended arm pushes down into water (elbow drops) and they are sinking while trying to inhale. The side kicking and shark fin drills will also help to improve this. Another drill also discussed in materials that will help with this challenge is fist drill, which forces you to not use your hands, therefore improves your balance in water.