The more I read about Ironman and triathon raining, specifically the swim portion, the more confused I get. Although I am a strong swimmer for a beginner, I know that I have a lot room for improvement, and have therefore sought out some help via my favorite resource, the Internet. In swimming, even more than most sports, technique takes precedence over strength or natural ability. This is why I am able to outswim men that are easily able to out run and out bike me.
The complicated part about swim technique is that although working on your form is paramount for improvement, you can’t watch yourself in a mirror so oftentimes you aren’t even sure what you are doing wrong. Each week I try to make it to at least one saster’s swim workout put on by the SD TriClub. The swim workouts vary week to week in nature but in general consist of a warm up, main set of intervals (no longer than 200 meters at a time), and a cool down. Sometimes we work on sprinting, sometimes on breathing less (i.e. ever three, five, seven, etc strokes), sometimes on drafting, etc. Although we do have a coach, the coach is not there to help with technique or many drills at all for that matter.
A couple of weeks ago during a master’s swim session that involved A LOT of sprinting (i.e. I was tired and my form probably suffered), the swim coach (who I had never worked with before), stopped me to point out that I needed to work on my catch. He said that instead of pushing water backward when my hand first entered the water, I was pushing it downward, which slows me down. I was glad to get some feedback and was eager to work on it. I asked him another questions after one of the later sets and he was able to answer it, but honestly I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. I went to YouTube the next day to research proper catch technique and although it was probably useful, I’m still not positive that I’m doing it right.
I purchased the book Going Long which is a training guide for completing an Ironman and have read the swim chapter. I also have done online research and watched various YouTube videos on proper form. There is so much information that it is hard to process it all. Last night at master’s swim I found myself over thinking everything. I’d think about my catch, then my hip tilt, then my head position, then my streamline, all within one 50 meter swim. It was overwhelming and in the end I think I swam worse for it.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that I need to take a private lesson. My friend Asia took a private lesson with a swim coach that does a video analysis. I definitely think that I want to do this. I also spoke with my friend Miranda who swam in high school and college and she is willing to work with me. TriClub’s Monday/Wednesday swims also offer a technique class in addition to the master’s workout. I tried the technique the first time that I went to the TriClub swim, but found it to be too slow. I was impatient and wanted to just swim (plus I was cold from standing halfway in the water in the cold night listening to instruction). However, I think that it would beneficial for me to take this class a few more times so that I can focus on just one thing at once, rather than swimming like a mad woman and over analyzing every little movement. Another good practice would be to focus on just one element of technique for each 50 meters or longer during master’s swim class, rather than trying to think about everything at once.
Have you ever over thought your techinque in a sport to the point of it having a reverse affect on performance? Any swim tips for me?!