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Posted by Mike Cortes on 4th Mar 2014
Here is an excellent tool to look at some of the subtle differences in swimming technique as you increase distances.
Note how the stroke rate decreases from 100m to 1500m. This is vital as it will help with preventing the onset of fatigue in your chest, which will further curtail your breathing. I've been a victim of this myself where I swam at too high of an effort and my upper shoulders and chest strained as I struggled to breath on the run during a sprint triathlon.
Jim Gourley, the author of Faster: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed, pointed out some key performance enhancers for the swim (besides improving technique): Swim at 80-85% of RPE in order to maximize performance on the bike and run. While slowing yourself down, think of how your moving through the water. Are your legs elevated and not dragging behind you? Are you 'relaxed?'
I was forced into this situation at my last IRONMAN event. While on the second lap of the Florida IRONMAN I was struck in the face by another swimmer as I turned to breath. I paused for a moment. Recaged my gyro and proceeded to breast stroke for a minute as I found the remaining buoys to swim around. I decided to slow down my speed in order to let the headache subside and make up for it on the bike and run. The swim was one of my worst performances ever yet I had a new PR on the bike and the run.
The lesson? Just when you think you're down and out remember to relax and focus on the main goal. Do I want an awesome swim time or a DNF? Stay in the fight and finish your race. You'll be glad you did.
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