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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

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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

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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

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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!

Swimming Tips for Beginner Triathletes

Beginner’s Guide to Triathlon Swimming

Don’t struggle through the first leg of your first triathlon by not being prepared for the swim portion. Use these beginner swimming tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years that will help improve your swim technique during your triathlon to help you hit the water with confidence.

Practice Your Breathing

Breathing comes naturally during the bike and run portions, but you need to practice this during your swim training to progress as a swimmer. As your body rotates back and forth, breathe out steadily when your head is underwater to get into a rhythm you are comfortable with. Practicing this will help ensure you are not out of breath at the end of the swim. Holding your breath will create a lot of tension in the upper body and restrict your arms during the swim.

Take Your Time

Swimming Tips For Beginner Triathletes. Jacks Generic Tri. Practice Practice on your own to begin with. Use this time by yourself to work on technique and breathing to become comfortable in the water. Set yourself up for success on the morning of your upcoming tri by taking your time and easing into your swim sets. Think of it this way: quality over quantity.

Keep It Short and Sweet

You don’t need to do long, strenuous workouts to build your skill in the water. You also don’t want to wait too long in between each swim, you will lose the progress you’ve made on your technique. Ease into your swim training by not overwhelming yourself with long workouts. Stick to short, repetitive sets that will keep you feeling confident in the water. Manage what you can with your schedule, but your goal should be to hit the pool every other day.

Swimming Tips For Beginner Triathletes. Jacks Generic Tri. Practice with others

Swim With Others

Once you feel comfortable with your own abilities in the water, get out and practice with other athletes to really get a feel for what you will experience on race day. A Master’s Swimming Program is always a great way to get with other athletes that share your goal of improving in the water. Use this time to get used to being close to other swimmers, while also counting your lengths to see what your pace will be like on race day. If you aren’t happy with your pace, adjust your pool training around that until you see the results you want!

If you’re a beginner triathlete, mastering these basic, essential swimming tips` will not only make you feel more at ease starting the race, it will also set you up to perform better during the remaining two portions of your tri. Like most other triathletes, swimming probably isn’t your favorite leg of a tri. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin prepping. With this as your guide, get ready to tackle the swim like a pro on the morning of your race.