Triathlon swimming is different from competitive swimming - pool swimming. Although the goals are the same - complete the distance as fast as possible, in triathlon there is a second goal: be as efficient as you can in order save energy for the bike and run. Swimming technique is therefore modified.
But, before you begin to work on your technique, you need to master two aspects of swimming: relaxation and breathing. If you are not relaxed when you are in the water, mastering triathlon swimming technique or any swimming for that matter, will be difficult. Once you can relax in the water, develop a breathing rhythm. When you are able to control your breathing and maintain a relaxed breathing rhythm you are ready to focus on technique. One of the "secrets" to breathing while swimming is exhaling when you face is in the water.
Effective swimming is all about reducing drag. These keys are designed to reduce the drag your body creates as you move through the water. Here are the five Keys to efficient and effective swimming.
Front Quadrant Swimming
This means one arm or hand is always in front of your body. Extend your arm as it enters the water - as if you are reaching for the end of the pool. Keep your arm extended just below the surface of the water until your other arm begins to enter the water. The natural tendency is to swim with your arms in opposition - one arm forward and the other arm backward. This is a very unbalanced position and makes it difficult to be efficient and reduce drag.
Streamline Body Position
This means getting your body in the thinnest position possible. You should look like a torpedo in the water as small a frontal area as possible. You should practice streamlining during every workout so it will be effective when you race. When you extend your arm forward, try to press your shoulder against your head behind your ear.
Horizontal Body Position
Remaining in a horizontal position is critical to efficient swimming. Your heels should be just breaking the surface of the water. Again, this is about frontal area and drag. Do not allow your knees or feet to move outside your frontal profile. A slight, slow kick is usually all that is necessary to keep your feet at the surface.
This is how your body moves as you swim. It starts at your hips. Just like swinging a baseball bat or a golf club, the movement must start at your hips. The shoulders move with the hips as you stroke. It is a side-to-side rotational movement. Use this to improve your position as you breath, remain streamline and horizontal. Avoid twisting movements of your torso.
Pull / Power Phase and Recovery
Although many people focus on the Pull / Power Phase of the stroke in order to improve swimming, the first four keys are more important. Your swimming will be faster and easier if you master the first four keys. The Pull / Power Phase is all about "grabbing" the water. Most people attempt to move their hand from in front of their body to along side their hip. To be efficient and fast, you must grab the water and pull your body past your hand. You hand should not move very much - from the point you grab the water until you lift your hand out of the water. Your body should be moving past your hand. Having a good "feel" for the water is critical to swimming fast and efficiently.