Does the thought of swimming make you nervous? For most entering the sport of triathlon, this is the least natural, and probably the least liked. In this article, you will see how to become adept at swimming in the shortest time possible with hints and tips on the right gear, mental preparation, and where you should focus in practice.
Having The Right Gear
Swimming is a simple sport when it comes to gear. You don't need much, but having the right stuff will help you learn and enjoy it better.
Firstly, guys, I will speak to you here, DO NOT WEAR SHORTS to do your swim workouts. It's like swimming with a parachute. Instead, find some good jammers, and you will be far happier in the water. Although they look similar, don't try to use compression shorts to do the job. The chlorine will tear them apart, and you will end up showing other people in the pool a bit more than you should!
Secondly, spend some time finding a comfortable pair of goggles. If swimming is not your thing, you want to give yourself every reason to succeed, and having comfortable eyewear helps. Goggles come in many shapes and sizes. The best approach is to head to a store and try some out. Don't settle for anything less than comfortable and leak-free. You may want to pick out more than one pair: a more clear-colored pair for pool swimming and another with shading or mirroring for outdoor swimming, which will help you get the most out of both environments. Many goggles now come with interchangeable bridges, which also helps with comfort & fit!
Finally, a swim cap will help much more than you think. Most guys can get away without one, depending on their hair situation, but ladies, you will almost certainly want one. There are two main types to consider: latex and silicone. Latex swim caps are cheap, thin, and come in all kinds of designs; however, they aren't the most fun to put on or the most comfortable to wear. Silicone caps are slightly thicker but easier to put on, more comfortable, and last longer too.
Now we've got your kit sorted, equipment to aid with your training in the water is important. These tools help you learn specific techniques but also help vary your training.
- FINS - These allow for added propulsion, which can hide some flaws in the back half of your stroke, allowing you to focus on specific areas. They're also beneficial for learning new drills before progressively making them harder without them.
- PULL BUOY - The pull buoy aims to keep your hips and legs and hips from sinking, so you can spend your time focusing on the more challenging parts of the stroke. The feeling is a lot closer to regular swimming vs. with fins.
- PADDLES - These are two purposes, the main one is they help develop the strength to your stroke, but they also help develop a longer pull. I always recommend the Agility Paddle from Finis, as these are the only ones that help you establish the correct entry and catch technique. If you aren't doing it correctly, they will fall off, giving you instant feedback.
Once you have the right gear, swimming progress becomes all about mental preparation and spending your time in the areas that will get you the most significant gains in the shortest period.
I came into triathlon, and I thought I was a strong swimmer. I'd previously been a competitive swimmer in school when I was younger. I soon learned that I wasn't and was focusing on all the wrong areas. Feeling the water is essential, so if you've learned how to swim previously and you're returning, lots of drills and aerobic work is what you need, not killer threshold sessions.
If you're a beginner, expect to spend almost all of your time getting comfortable and doing drills.It will likely be 5-10 sessions before you are ready to try your hand at a complete freestyle stroke. Patience pays off.
To get a Swim Coach or not?
The biggest key to feeling competent in the water begins with seeing consistent improvement, which is all about knowing where to focus your efforts. The first question you have to ask yourself is, "Do I really know how to swim, or do I just think I do?" As a coach, I have come across many people that think they do, which leads to them focusing on the wrong things, not improving, and ending up incredibly frustrated.
Learning to swim, especially as an adult, is a unique challenge. Having a trained eye to guide your efforts can save you a lot of time and effort. A good swim coach has all the right tools and many experiences with all kinds of swimmers. This experience is vital. In short, there is far less guesswork from yourself!
I hope you've found this helpful, and to see you in the pool soon!