Swimming - the first discipline. In the popular triathlon, the length of the course can vary between 500 and 750 meters, depending on the event. In the following article you will find an overview for the start of the triathlon and four steps how you can achieve your desired performance in a comparatively short preparation.
When swimming, you quickly notice that an improvement and economization of the technology leads to great progress in performance. So don't just jump into the nearest pool and aimlessly swim your laps, but work from the start to ensure that you move through the water as effectively as possible.
Use your beginner advantage
If you are new to triathlon, and especially to swimming, you have an advantage over some experienced swimmers. You can pay attention to a clean technique right from the start, while some swimmers have to focus their first triathlon training period on getting rid of movements that are unsuitable for the triathlon. And that is much more difficult than learning new movement patterns, since the poor technique is already internalized and part of the swimming routine. So that you can easily learn the right movement in the water for the triathlon, we come to the next point.
There is a problem with swimming training with a focus on technique. It is very difficult to observe and improve your own movements. It is therefore advisable to complete the first technique units under the supervision of a swimming coach, who can correct you immediately if you make incorrect movements. If you prefer to train alone, you should consider filming your swim training so that you can identify potential for improvement yourself. The best course, of course, is to join a beginner-level swim class at a triathlon or swim club.
Practice the crawl
Although freestyle is allowed - breaststroke is not well suited for triathlon. Due to large fluctuations in propulsion speed and the heavy load on the leg muscles, breaststroke is an uneconomical choice for triathletes. In the first discipline, you should make sure that you only put a little strain on your legs, as they still have to stay fit for cycling and running. Most of the power comes from the arms, since later they only have to do holding work, which is why crawl swimming has become the most efficient technique. The leg kick is usually reduced to such an extent that it is mostly only carried out to maintain the ideal water position (as flat as possible). However, if you find it difficult to crawl the entire distance, you can use a backstroke for recovery, since it makes breathing easier. However, it is significantly slower than crawl swimming and offers poorer orientation, so ideally you should try to keep these breaks as infrequent and short as possible.
In 4 steps to the competition
Step 1 - Learn the technique
Spend the first two to four weeks, with two sessions per week, fully concentrating (ideally with a trainer) on your technique. This should be enough time to get at least a good foundation and you will find that you have a distinct advantage over unstructured swimmers.
Step 2 - Consolidate your technique
If you feel safe swimming and have mastered the basic technique well, you should try to use it automatically and correctly. If you have a routine basis, you can concentrate better on individual movement sequences and thus refine your technique even further. After step 1, this is what you should focus on for the next four to six weeks.
Step 3 - Build Endurance
Here is an example program for 500 meters with 2 sessions per week:
Warm-up : 2 x 50 meters easy on the breast or back
Technique : 6 x 50 meter technique exercises (25m technique + 25m freestyle)
Speed : 2 x 50 meters (25m crawl progression - push off easily and increase speed to maximum speed, then 25m easy crawl)
Unit 1: crawl pyramid: 25m - 50m - 75m - 100m - 75m - 50m - 25m with a 30s break each
Unit 2: 10 x 50 meter freestyle with a 60s break
Unit 1: crawl pyramid: 25m - 50m - 100m - 150m - 100m - 50m - 25m with a 30s break each
Unit 2: 5 x 100 meter freestyle with a 60s break
Unit 1: crawl pyramid: 50m - 75m - 100m - 150m - 100m - 75m - 50m with a 30s break each
Unit 2: 5 x 50 meter crawl with 30s rest + 5x 100 meter crawl with 60s rest
Unit 1: crawl pyramid: 50m - 100m - 150m - 200m - 150m - 100m - 50m with a 30s break each
Unit 2: 8 x 100 meters crawl 60s rest
Swim out : 2 x 50 meters easy chest and back technique
Step 4 - Fine tune your technique
So that you are best prepared for the competition, all you need now is a feeling for the open water. The best way to do this is to swim continuously in a lake, no later than about a week before the event. Ideally, you practice orientation in open water directly at the competition site. If you manage to swim there for 15 minutes and then feel fit for the next two disciplines, you are ready for your first triathlon!
And remember, if you do experience a lot of fatigue in the competition, a few sections of back or chest technique is totally fine!
The entire series: fit for the popular triathlon
#1 Swim: 4 steps to your desired swim time