Here are 5 received ideas that we are often confronted with during squads or during analysis sessions and which are all points that prevent you from swimming faster.
“Your pull should be as long as possible – the fewer strokes you do per length the more effective it is.”
A long-range is interesting to a point, but overdoing it will cause “dead spots” and “pauses” which will ruin your pace and waste a lot of energy to re-accelerate between presses.
This often happens to swimmers who have done a lot of technical work focusing on “sliding”. These dead times cause a deceleration between each stroke, making the movement much less efficient because you must then re-accelerate between each movement. In addition, in the case of open water with a lower rate, you will be much more subject to currents and waves. Finally, last point, a longer amplitude, and lower cadence offer a much more muscular work than a movement more carried out at high cadence, exactly as in cycling, between riding at 60rpm or 90rpm.
Our advice: in order to become as efficient as possible, you must find your ideal pace (arm strokes per minute), which depends on your technique, your morphology, and your form.
“As a Triathlete, I don’t need to work on my Kicker”
As a triathlete, you are not looking for propulsion with your kick (forget about kick exercises with a plank and short fins), but you still have to work on this component to save energy.
Poor kick technique creates a lot of resistance. For a more advanced swimmer, the timing of the kick also has an effect on the power generated by arm movement and rotation. If you just let your legs go while wearing a wetsuit, your efficiency will be felt even if your legs float more.
A small example of progress made during a video analysis and technical correction session carried out yesterday at the Olympic stadium. On the left we note a frontal zone twice as high as on the right (kick corrected 20min later):
“I can’t breathe on both sides – I don’t have time to get enough air.”
American lifeguard and their lifeguard requirements believes that everyone can breathe bilaterally. If you do not succeed there are several possibilities that arise: a) If you are a beginner, your pace may be too low, suddenly the moment of breathing returns much less quickly. Working on your hitting frequency should help you in this regard. b) We may not breathe well underwater. This is critical because blocking your breath to throw everything out at the last moment increases the level of C02 in the body and you will feel like you are doing an anaerobic effort (like a sprint) when you are supposed to swim endurance. c) If it is only on one side in particular that you cannot breathe, it may be due to a lack of rotation on that side:
d) Maybe you are taking too much air: do you really need to fill your lungs completely? take the test: you may favor the effect of hyperventilation.
“The position of my head should be low, looking towards the bottom of the pool”
For some swimmers — Yes. For the vast majority of swimmers – No. Yet nearly one in two swimmers that I meet in analysis tends to look too deep. The head position is very individual and once your technique begins to set in you can begin to refine this position.
A slightly more raised neck and a slightly forward look will often promote better development of the supports. A higher head position is of course an advantage in open water and triathlon, making drafting and scouting easier.
Our tip: experiment with different positions, whether looking at the bottom, at 45 degrees, or even closer to the surface, you might be surprised!
“I don’t need to do intensity and/or endurance in swimming, I just do technique – I do enough ‘quality’ in cycling and running.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. A large part of our aerobic capacity depends on the efficiency of specific muscles that we use, so we must train those muscles to function effectively. If you neglect interval and endurance training you will never come close to your full potential in swimming.
Our advice: When you train in swimming you have to take the same approach as in cycling and running, you need technique but also sessions at the threshold (CSS) and inactive endurance (RedMist). Add to that the specific aspect with your work for Open Water and swimming with drafting and you are ready!