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Swim Stroke Styles: What They Are and Why They Matter

Benefits of Incorporating Different Swim Stroke Styles into your tri training

Triathlon swimming is different from competitive swimming. You’re in open water with a bunch of triathletes on the same mission: to reach the end of the swim as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible. The distance of the swim will help you determine which swim stroke style you should work on during training to do your best on race day. Your current skill level in the water is also important to factor in. Keep reading to see the benefits of learning multiple swim strokes during your training for your upcoming tri. 

Why Different Swim Strokes Matter

In open water racing, you’ll find yourself having to swerve around other athletes. You may also have to stop quickly to avoid getting kicked and make tight turns around buoy markers. Adding in new strokes for just one of your workouts per week will make a difference in being able to react to these circumstances in an efficient way. Not only that, using different strokes will cause you to use different ranges of motion resulting in less strain to particular muscles and more of a complete shoulder and chest workout.

Freestyle Stroke

Freestyle is the best-known swim style stroke, and the most common stroke we see out at Jack’s Generic Tri, because it’s the most efficient swim stroke you can learn. It takes you farther than other strokes without expending more energy. Freestyle also gives you a full-body workout. It works the muscles in your arms, legs, core, and back. If you are looking for a particular swimming stroke to strengthen your back muscles, freestyle is definitely the way to go. Although the most efficient stroke, it can also be difficult to master. One of the most important things to focus on during training is your breathing. You can practice this by using the flutter kick while holding a kickboard out in front of you and practice rotating your face in and out of the water to breathe until you’ve established a rhythm you can replicate in the open water.

Benefits of the Freestyle Stroke

Click here to learn more about the freestyle stroke

Backstroke

Backstroke is rarely used during a triathlon, but it is a great stroke to incorporate into your training because it helps your shoulders unwind after sticking with one specific stroke for a while. This stroke is great for improving hip rotation. It also works your shoulder flexibility in the opposite way from freestyle. Depending on the length of your swim, mastering backstroke is always a great alternative to have up your sleeve. Your face stays out of the water, so you can breathe whenever you want. Backstroke is extremely useful when you need a bit of a rest period or if the water is choppy on race day.

Benefits of Backstroke

Click here to learn more about the backstroke

Breaststroke

Breastroke is the perfect swim stroke style for building strength in your hands by using them as paddles. This will translate into a stronger pull in freestyle. It’s a great way to switch things up and focus on different muscle groups. If you’re hesitant to hold your breath, breaststroke is great because you breathe every stroke. You can also complete this stroke without having to put your face in the water. Some argue breaststroke is the slowest swimming stroke, which may be a con for people who prefer speed. This stroke can be done for longer periods of time, so it can serve as an endurance workout. It’s a good alternative to your regular stroke as a way to mix in some cardio and burn a lot of calories in a session.

Benefits of Breaststroke

Click here to learn more about the breaststroke

Butterfly Stroke

If you’re looking to challenge yourself in the water, the butterfly is the way to go. This stroke was named after the movement in which you move your arms and is great for strengthening your core. This is important to triathlon because a strong core aids in swimming, cycling, and running. Butterfly requires a great deal of strength and coordination that takes time to develop. Not only does is this stroke a great workout to build abdominal strength, but it also strengthens your shoulders and chest. Each stroke requires that your core muscles have enough power to pull your arms over the water. Just a few laps of butterfly leaves you feeling its effects and burns the most calories of any swimming stroke. If this stroke is something you’re interested in perfecting, consider joining a Masters Swimming Program to get to proper coaching and guidance you’d need.

Benefits of Butterfly Stroke

Click here to learn more about the butterfly stroke

Keep in Mind:

Although your goal may be to complete the distance as fast as possible, you have to pace yourself. Triathlon requires you to be as efficient as you can in order to save energy for the bike and run later on. Incorporating different swim strokes into your training builds strength in other muscle groups, reduces the risk of injury, and breaks the repetitiveness in your swim sets. In the meantime, try these ways to stay motivated to keep up with your tri training and we’ll see you at JGT in no time!

Why You Should Try a Masters Swimming Program

Make Masters Swimming your new favorite way to train for JGT

Don’t let the word “Masters” scare you. Rediscover your love of being in the water, while getting a workout in by joining a Masters Swimming Program. You’ll be a pro at this year’s Jack’s Generic Tri swim start after becoming comfortable with swimming in groups. Masters programs are all over the nation and offer a wide variety of training techniques, workouts, and much more.

What is Masters Swimming?new swimmer

Masters Swimming is a national program that provides swimming clubs for adults. Membership is open to people 18 years or older, and 25 years or older to compete at national U.S. Masters Swimming events. From beginner swimmers to advanced, Masters Swimming is for anyone looking to improve their skill set in the water.

With guidance from an experienced coach, you are guaranteed the improvement of your swim strokes. Along with your confidence in the water. Whether you are trying to get better at swimming, or simply love to be in the water, there are many benefits of taking up Masters Swimming.

What’s in it for me?

Most importantly, being in the water works out your entire body. No matter what the drill may be, aqua workouts can improve your flexibility, endurance, and your overall muscle strength. Different level classes offer basic swim advice and tips on how to change up your swim training plan. In addition to your JGT swim workouts, you’ll likely discover new swim training methods you may have never heard of.

masters swimming strokes to learn

If your goal is to work on becoming more fit, Master’s Swimming is for you. If your goal is to keep up with your current state of fitness, Masters Swimming program is also for you. Perfect your current technique, or learn a few new ones with swimmers like yourself.

Practice is key to make you more comfortable in the water over time. Last but not least, having a club you belong to is a great motivator to encourage you to keep up with your training, and have fun in the process!

Jump in!

Come on in, the water's fine!

There are many programs around the nation that offer swim groups you can join. Austin Triathlon Club has a great list of the different facilities nearby that offer Masters Swimming based on your experience level. Depending on where you are reading this, use Club Finder to find Masters Swimming organizations near you. For our triathletes out there, getting used to swimming with others will make the swim far less intimidating. That’s just one reason why Masters Swimming is the best practice you can get for the swim portion of Jack’s Generic Tri.