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Random Thoughts on Swimming Technique
by Denis Oakley in

I met up with Dave and some other last night and had a good natter. As usual I learned a lot. Sometimes it's embarrassing to ask questions; sometyimes it's worse to hear the answers. So I asked how long it took people to swim 50m. The general concensus was that it probably couldn't be done in less than 30s. This was great news. I'm chuffed at the moment in doing it in 55s (50 when I'm fresh) so there is huge potential for improvement there.

I think that this will come from two sources - strength and technique. Now swimming 50m's fast is not the be all and end all of life - except when being chased by a shark - but it is a measure of ability. The thing is though that whilst Randy can do this in almost 1/2 the time that I can the speed gains don't translate to longer distance - 45min for a 4km swim is probably impossible for any age group triathlete.

One of the things that I felt last year was that in transition from the pool to the sea the performance gap between me and people I knew became significantly smaller. Do they get effected badly by the sea? Do I get effected, but just not as badly? Do I perform better in the sea?

One thought here is that given the variability of the sea through the stroke cycle a poor stroke is less inefficient than in the pool. Alternatively a text book stroke cannot be efficient because it relies on idealised hydrodyamics which you don't get outside a pool environment. This then is probably the best reason for triathletes to focus on strength and endurance rather than style. Having the strength to power through the waves is possible. Having the subtlety to optimise your stroke each cycle to the waves is not.


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