February 2007 Swim Training Chat with Coach Kevin Koskella

author : Tri Swim Coach
comments : 0

Discussions on hand entry, common triathlete training mistakes, the best swim drills, useful swim tools and flip turn help.

[Tri Swim Coach] What's on your mind tonight?


[Writebrained] Total Immersion (TI) question. Your thoughts on the technique?


[Tri Swim Coach] I like it, it's the fundamentals of freestyle. It's based on revolutionary stuff from the 1970's.


[Writebrained] What about entry point? Most of the others at the pool enter wide. TI promotes a narrow entry or entry in-front of the head.


[Tri Swim Coach] I see a lot of people entering in front of their head. The problem with that is that you need to be pulling more to the outside. So you slice your hand in by your head then you will need to pull outward right away, not the most efficient.


[Writebrained] Okay...makes sense. What are the top mistakes you see triathletes making (as opposed to other competitive swimmers)?
 

[Tri Swim Coach] One would be training too 'hard' instead of working on drills and technique. Many triathletes are competitive and just want to go fast all the time. This is the worst thing for swimming, because you will cement bad habits.


[Writebrained] What are the best drills then?


[Tri Swim Coach] Start with the basics: balance by kicking on your side, then progress to the "shark fin drill". You can see these videos on my site. www.triswimcoach.com.  I also see too much use of the kick board and pull buoy. People love these toys because they make you float and makes it easier for them.
 

[Writebrained] If TI has a weakness, it seems to be speed. Why is that? Also, why don't I see more Kona-type triathlete using TI?


[Tri Swim Coach] Most elite and advanced level triathletes came from a swimming background. Some of them even have crappy strokes! But they've perfected those strokes, so changing to TI at that advanced stage would be taking a step backward. It's much like my teachings. I haven't worked with many pros, because they would have to re-invent their stroke at this point, and there's just not the time for that!


[Writebrained] Makes sense. What toys (not kick board or pull buoy) would you recommend?


[Tri Swim Coach] Toys- I like the Freestyler paddle by Finis, and the new Zoomers Z2 fins for doing drills. Also, I have seen people getting good results with the new Forearm Fulcrum, also by Finis.


[Writebrained] Great. I'll have to take a second look at those.


[Tri Swim Coach] Snorkels are fantastic also. I have not incorporated use of them into my workout, but it does so many great things, including helping with technique and building your lungs.
 

[Writebrained] Flip-turns or no? I have 2 bad discs and they are tough on me.

 

[Tri Swim Coach] I always advocate flip turns even though you won't be needing them in an open water race. They allow you to keep your flow going much better, and also you don't get that little break at the wall.  I would think it would be good for your back but I'm no doctor!

[Writebrained] Kicking - Big deal? Or don't worry about it, let it happen?
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Kicking is only about 10% of your overall propulsion, but without a kick it makes swimming difficult. You don't need a powerful kick in triathlon, but you need to develop at least an adequate one. Try some vertical kicking to improve, also use Zoomers if you have a "runners kick."  The kick helps you balance and rotate through the water.
 

[Writebrained] Got it! I've really been working on keeping my head down. Pretending I have a tennis ball under my chin seems to help. Does that make sense? Any other visualizations that might help a swimmer?


[Tri Swim Coach] Yes, good, just don't tuck your chin in too much, that will create drag. just keep a little of the back of your head just above the surface of the water
 

[sue7013] I liked your article on flip turns, I can flip but my timing SUCKS.
 

[Tri Swim Coach] It's all about practice!
 

[sue7013] Its' a timing coming into the wall thing as in WHEN do I flip so I am not too close or too far away from the wall?


[Tri Swim Coach] Well you probably have good flexibility from your gymnastics background which is big for swimming. Just check that wall right before you flip.


[sue7013] How do you learn to pace yourself in open water?
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Well ideally you should keep to the outside at the start, find some open space so you're not getting pounded.
 

[sue7013] The contact really doesn't bug me, it's when I get to myself I settle into a slower pace than I should be swimming at.


[Tri Swim Coach] I don't think you need to worry about going too slow. Just keep your stroke together, and find someone to draft off of for a while.
 

[chirunner134] When you pull, should your hand be level with your shoulder?
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Yes, just about. You want to avoid pulling way to the outside or inside of your body. Not high, but more straight.
 

[chirunner134] And when you pull, should your arm be at a 90 degree at the elbow?
 

[Tri Swim Coach] Well, you want to pull all the way to extension, then lift your arm out leading with your elbow. 100 degrees sounds about right.
 

[chirunner134] What is a good drill so you rotate better?

 

[Tri Swim Coach] Practice swimming with your fists closed. It will feel very awkward, but try your best to keep your stroke together as you do it, and focus on rotating your hips to move you through the water.  Don't use fins on that drill.


[Writebrained] Biggest mistake you see at the local pool?

[Tri Swim Coach] Biggest mistake: swimming flat in the water and trying to muscle through a workout. It's important to learn rotation and implement it, even though it will feel slow at first.


[Writebrained] Hey! BIG thanks for the time and info. Much appreciated!


[Tri Swim Coach] No problem! It's been fun!

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date: March 7, 2007

Tri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

avatarTri Swim Coach

I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.

For a 20% DISCOUNT on Zoomers Z2 fins and Freestyler paddles, go to www.finisinc.com and use discount code ‘aggies20’ at checkout!

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