Recently I considered signing up for my first aquathlon (a triathlon minus the bike portion), but some bad news got in the way:
|Thanks a lot E.Coli|
I'm going to try to do a few posts on swimming tips, and hopefully you can amp up your swimming with them. Swimming is a great workout for your entire body, and is low-impact, so it can be used if you are recovering from an injury. I'm going to focus mostly on freestyle, since it's the stroke of choice for tris. So to start, here are some beginner swimming tips to get you started in the water:
What to wear and how to wear it:
- Goggles- goggles are important for obvious reasons, but I see so many people wearing the wrong type and size. This is why I highly recommend going to a swim store or sports store that will allow you to try on a few pairs before you buy. A proper fitting pair of goggles should make a seal around your eyes and stay on for a few seconds without the strap behind your head. So just press the lenses on your eyes and put your head down. If they stay on for a few seconds, they are a good pair. A lot of girls have a hard time finding goggles that fit well, myself included, if they have smaller heads, so consider kids goggles as well. Some good brands to consider are: Sporti, TYR, and Speedo.
|My goggles- Speedo Women's Vanquisher|
- Swim Cap- If you like your hair, I'd highly recommend a swim cap. Not only will it protect your hair, it will also keep your hair out of your way and your goggles in place, and speed you up a little. Use the silicone type, not the latex ones, because they are much more comfortable, cause less damage to your hair, and are easier to get on. Another tip I picked up in my swim lesson days is to put on leave in conditioner before you put on your cap to better protect your hair.
- A swimsuit - the most important part. Please don't wear a bikini unless it's made for swimming! If you're swimming right at all, it will come off I promise. Most good swimsuits come in number sizes from 28-40 ish. A good rule of thumb is that your size will be your bra size for practice and one down for competition. Competition suits are supposed to be super skin tight, but if you're just swimming for your health go for comfort! I know it sounds crazy, but a lot of girls wear sports bras underneath their suits for added support and comfort (plus you don't have to worry about the entire pool noticing how cold you are). I hated this idea at first, but now wear one with my suits every day. Make sure you get a dry-fit one rather than cotton. Some good brands are TYR, Speedo, and Nike although Nike tends to fit differently so try them on. Speedo provides the most coverage, TYR seems to require a sports bra because it cuts far in on the arm pit area, but if you wear one it's no big.
|My current suit - a TYR model|
Okay so now you've got the basics for swimming gear, let's talk about some beginner tips for in the water:
- Cup your hands - in my classes we call them "ice cream scoops". Keep your fingers together with hands cupped like you would if you wanted to scoop up water. You'd be surprised how much of a difference just adding this will make.
- Keep your knees straight - If your doing freestyle kick, you're knees should remain almost completely straight. If you struggle a lot in the water, chances are you are kicking your legs like you pedal a bike rather than like scissors opening and closing.
- Kick fast and small - Another major problem I see in beginners is that they tend to kick they're legs really wide open and slowly. The faster and smaller you kick, the faster you will go.
- Rotate your head, don't lift it - When you breathe, rotate your head to the side, don't life it forward and up. This will help you tremendously.
- Use drills - Drills are a great way to improve your stroke and make you stronger. They are vital to effective swimming. I'll do a post later with some great drills to use.
- Use a pool with lap lanes or a lake - Trying to swim laps in a crowded public pool will frustrate you FAST. Not to mention, having to dodge people constantly will not allow you to have proper form. If you can find a place with dedicated lanes or lap swim time, do it.
- Use manners - Often times you will have to swim with another person in your lane. Swim etiquette says that you always swim to the right of the black line in the lane. Also stay a good distance behind the swimmer in front of you so that you aren't drafting off their wake or hitting their feet.
- Consider lessons - if you're new to swimming and really considering a triathlon or incorporating swimming more into your workouts, lessons can really help you pick up tricks and improve your form. Lessons aren't just for learning how to swim, but also for those that swim and want to improve their swimming or learn techniques and drills. Some swim instructors will even write out swim workouts for you.
Hope these tips helped and they weren't too beginner. I'll be adding more advanced tips and drills in future posts to come!
As Dory would say, Just keep swimming!
QOTD: If you were to do a triathlon (or have), what would be your weakest leg? Swim, Run, or Bike?