3 Myths About Triathlon Swimming

Posted Chris Articles, Training

Like any sport, there are many training myths on how to best train and improve. Just to name a few that I have seen this past week on some popular online blogs and forums…

To make it to Kona, you need to train 18-25 hours a week.

You should eat one gel every 15 min to avoid bonking.

You shouldn’t eat anything during a workout so that you can be a fat burner.

Triathletes should not lift weights because it will bulk you up and make you slower.

Most of these myths stem from anecdotal experiences and traditional training methodology. While there might be a seed of truth in these and the many other myths, accepting them as fact can prevent you from becoming a successful, faster triathlete.

Here are three common, triathlon swim myths that I see many beginner triathletes fall prey to:

  1. To get faster, you need to swim [insert large number here] meters. Yep this is a myth. Yes, you do need to swim to get faster, but there is no magic number of laps that will guarantee success. What is more important than the number of laps of your swim is the quality of those laps and how consistently you do it. A swimmer who swims twice a week consistently and focuses those workouts on his/her limiters will improve more than the swimmer who goes to the pool 3 times a week and mindlessly swims lap after lap until his/her Garmin reads a specific distance or time. So, instead of focusing on volume, make each of those laps count.
  2. You shouldn’t focus on your kick so you can save your legs for the bike and run. Regardless of whether you are a pool swimmer or a triathlete, you need to work on your kick. It is an essential part of being an efficient swimmer. Without the kick your lower body will sink, and you will fatigue quickly with all the work your arms will be doing. Don’t believe me? Tie your legs together with a towel or a bungee cord and try to swim 100 m. A strong kick though will give you better swim form, balance in the water, and a faster swim split. Try vertical kicking, which forces you to kick from the hip flexors and engage your thighs to keep your head above water.
  3. Swimming more and ditching the drills will make you faster. Beginner swimmers will not become expert swimmers just by swimming more. But doing just drills is not the answer either. Beginners need both. Think of your swim training like a ratio. Beginners need a higher ratio of drills to speed work. As they progress and become more efficient, that ratio shifts more towards laps and intensity. To get the most out of your drill sets, your chosen drills need to target your individual limiters, and need to have a purpose.

So the next time that guy in the lane next to you starts telling you that you should ditch those vertical kick sets and drills and start swimming 2000 m repeats, now you know the facts.

Train hard,
Coach Chris and Kev