General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology Rss Feed  
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2017-06-16 11:43 AM


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Subject: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology
Wanted to put something out for discussion.

I have been swimming for 2 1/2 years now and I am 58. It has mostly been all uphill, but I am getting there.

Question: Do you think that there is a disconnect in teaching methods for pool events versus triathlon? I started to listen to the Tower 26 podcast awhile back. One thing that struck me right away was that they were basically contradicting a lot of stuff that a coach tried to teach me when I was starting. And to me, what they said made sense.
Examples: Long swims are very important, as are OWS's (most triathlon swims are much longer than 2 minutes, most pool swims are less) Early vertical forearm is not the most critical thing. Breathe, breathe, breathe, as much as you want. They indicated how Andy Potts breathes every stroke. They questioned how much value there is in getting your stroke count down to 17 from 20 in a 25 meter swim. Pull buoys are not the most evil invention ever made. Used with a snorkel to train for tautness, alignment, they are very useful (their words). They question the output versus value of the kick, etc etc You get the idea. I really have gotten a lot out of their episodes.

I'm starting to think that a high school or college swim coach is not the same person at all as a triathlon swim coach. (unless that high school coach also does tri's) Yet when we go for lessons, it is usually a regular swim coach we see.

Opinions?


2017-06-16 11:49 AM
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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology

I absolutely agree with this.  Although I would insert "not likely to be":

I'm starting to think that a high school or college swim coach is not the same person at all as a triathlon swim coach.

Very different goals.  

 

The average adult onset triathlete swimmer who is just trying to prepare to do a triathlon can get by with time in the pool, working on form, and I personally say that using a pull buoy is not the worst.    I used one to simulate the buoyancy I would feel with a wetsuit on and it helped me get the time in and work on other priorities. 



Edited by BikerGrrrl 2017-06-16 11:50 AM
2017-06-16 11:52 AM
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Champion
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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology

In addition: other critical things a triathlete benefits from, not likely to be taught in the average swim lesson:

  • sighting
  • drafting
  • conservative kick
2017-06-16 12:11 PM
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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology
Can you find a Total Immersion swim coach in your area. There is debate, but I taught myself to swim as an adult and it was awful. Finding a TI coach helpful in learning to swim in the most energy efficient way so that you can go the distance. Mine works with triathletes and gives advice on waves and sighting. Felt skeptical about some of their literature, but think my swimming is improving.
It is different if you are racing 100 meters full out or are doing a mile and have to be ready to bike and run after. For example TI encourages a two beat kick.

Mitzi

Edited by MuscleMomma 2017-06-16 12:23 PM
2017-06-16 12:11 PM
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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology

Originally posted by Burchib Wanted to put something out for discussion. I have been swimming for 2 1/2 years now and I am 58. It has mostly been all uphill, but I am getting there. Question: Do you think that there is a disconnect in teaching methods for pool events versus triathlon? I started to listen to the Tower 26 podcast awhile back. One thing that struck me right away was that they were basically contradicting a lot of stuff that a coach tried to teach me when I was starting. And to me, what they said made sense. Examples: Long swims are very important, as are OWS's (most triathlon swims are much longer than 2 minutes, most pool swims are less) Early vertical forearm is not the most critical thing. Breathe, breathe, breathe, as much as you want. They indicated how Andy Potts breathes every stroke. They questioned how much value there is in getting your stroke count down to 17 from 20 in a 25 meter swim. Pull buoys are not the most evil invention ever made. Used with a snorkel to train for tautness, alignment, they are very useful (their words). They question the output versus value of the kick, etc etc You get the idea. I really have gotten a lot out of their episodes. I'm starting to think that a high school or college swim coach is not the same person at all as a triathlon swim coach. (unless that high school coach also does tri's) Yet when we go for lessons, it is usually a regular swim coach we see. Opinions?

 

FWIW, every triathlon swim coach I know who has even half a clue would agree with the majority of that.  If everything a "coach" told you contradicted all of that, I'd question that coach's level of expertise.

 Edited to add:  Fast swimming is fast swimming.  The basics that underlie a good pool swimmer and ows/triathlon swimming are identical.  Triathlon swimming/ows just layers on a set of skills specific to the demands of the events (sighting, dealing with waves/chop, etc), just as pool racing layers on a different set of skills specific to the demands of those events (starts, turns, etc.)

 



Edited by TriMyBest 2017-06-16 12:16 PM
2017-06-16 5:54 PM
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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology
Originally posted by Burchib


Question: Do you think that there is a disconnect in teaching methods for pool events versus triathlon? I started to listen to the Tower 26 podcast awhile back. One thing that struck me right away was that they were basically contradicting a lot of stuff that a coach tried to teach me when I was starting. And to me, what they said made sense.

Examples: Long swims are very important, as are OWS's (most triathlon swims are much longer than 2 minutes, most pool swims are less).

I personally don't think long swims are all that important in training. I do, however, believe long SETS are important. If my goal is to maximize my performance at the mile distance, I believe I get more training value for out of swimming 30 X 100, 20 X 150, or 15 X 200 at mile race pace on short rest (~15-20 seconds) than I do swimming one mile at race pace, or something longer than a mile at slower-than-mile-pace. Once every month or so, I'll get out there and do a 1650 yard time trial, just to remind myself what it feels like to go continuous. The rest of the time, I'm aiming to get ~twice the race distance at the race pace in a workout, and that requires breaking that distance into shorter segments with short rests in between.

As a year 'round competitive swimmer, and only part time triathlete, I work mostly on sprint and middle distance swim training in the winter and early spring, then flip to distance swim training ahead of summer triathlon season. I still keep some sprint sets in my workout schedule during tri training season, though. Long sets build endurance, but short and fast is what builds (or maintains) power. Both are helpful to have, whether you're racing a 200 in a pool or the swim leg of a HIM.


It's a no-brainer to say that if you plan to race in open water, you would benefit from practicing some in open water. I can't imagine any coach that knew triathlon was your objective would discourage you from doing that if/when you could.

Early vertical forearm is not the most critical thing.

Agreed. It's good technique, but you can be fast without it. If pulling deeper lets you get a better catch, and hold it longer, go with it.


Breathe, breathe, breathe, as much as you want. They indicated how Andy Potts breathes every stroke.

As does Ledecky and pretty much any Olympic freestyle swimmer at any distance beyond 100M. Even some of the 100 guys are breathing ever stroke now. I do some long rest, no-breath 25's, especially in the winter/spring season, but that's specific training for the 50 free which is a no-breath event for me. Other than that, I think breath control sets are of limited value. (I do think you need to learn to breath to either side, so some 'breath every three" exercises seems like it would be appropriate for a beginner or intermediate level swimmer).

They questioned how much value there is in getting your stroke count down to 17 from 20 in a 25 meter swim.
Focusing on SPL alone, while ignoring the other side of the equation (stroke rate), is wasted energy. There's no value in going from 20 to 17 SPL if you have to drop your stroke rate 15% or more to do it. But, if you can go from 17 to 20 SPL and keep you stroke rate the same, there's a LOT of value in that!

While you shouldn't obsess over SPL, and getting it lower, you should be conscious of your usual SPL at different speeds and/or race distances. I actually count strokes in a 500/1000/1650 race. I know I'm going to take more per length as the race goes on and I fatigue, but I have a "redline" figure that, if exceeded, is an indicator that I'm getting so sloppy, I'm actually using more energy to go slower than if I tidied up the stroke a bit.


Pull buoys are not the most evil invention ever made.
No, they're not. I've come around to using the pull buoy more as I've transitioned from "just a swimmer" to "swimmer and part time triathlete." Sometimes, when my lower body is still recovering from a run or ride and I just can't hold race-pace in my sets, I'll go to the pull buoy for help. That said, I still think beginners and intermediate swimmers should be cautious about becoming over reliant on the buoy. Besides the "you need to know how to swim without the floatation because you never know when water temps might dictate 'no wetsuits'" argument, swimming with a pull buoy relieves you from having to swim with core tension to maintain good body position. Without core tension, you can't connect the power from your kick to your stroke. If you don't develop that strength and that technique, you're limiting your potential total power, regardless of whether or not you're in a wetsuit.


Swim with a snorkel to train for tautness, alignment, they are very useful (their words).
Never used a snorkel, so I can't comment either way.


They question the output versus value of the kick..
The kick alone isn't very propulsive, IMHO, at longer distances, slower paces that most triathletes will be swimming at. But see my comment above about the pull buoy. With proper technique, body tension, and timing, the kick can add power to your stroke.



Edited by gary p 2017-06-16 6:08 PM


2017-06-16 10:05 PM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology
I disagree. Build technique first , then strength, then speed, then endurance.
2017-06-16 10:07 PM
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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology
Not loving snorkel but 1 breath 25s to work on stroke while keeping head steady.
2017-06-20 11:53 AM
in reply to: gary p


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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology
Really great insights...thanks everyone!
2017-06-22 7:11 AM
in reply to: Burchib

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Subject: RE: Pool swim versus Triathlon-Teaching Methodology
Fast swimming is fast swimming, does not matter if you are outside or inside.

Swimming in a tri is longer distance so you have to train for long distance swimming not sprinting. However if you can't swim fast for a short distance you certainly won't swim fast for a long distance. Your technique changes some for distance swimming just like runner a marathon vs running a 100meter dash. Distance swimmers breath more, and kick less that does not mean you should not kick. The kick is helps your body position in the water.

You have to develop some extra skills for open water such as sighting, and dealing with waves so its helpful to do some training open water.

As for the pull buoy, it is a major issue for many triathletes relying on it. If all your races are wetsuit legal, the wetsuit will be similar to using the pull buoy. However there are many people who have decided to use the pull buoy all the time and when they have to swim without it and without a wetsuit they can barely swim a couple hundred yards.

Learn proper technique, do not use these aids(buoys, paddles, boards,.. ) more than 30%-40% of the time, or your setting yourself up for failure.
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