Cross Training for Swimming – Issue #51

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Cross Training for Swimming Newsletter

Well, my trip to Europe did not involve much swimming as it turned out. I did get in a public pool one day in Frankfurt, Germany. Much to my surprise, I walked in the locker room and saw men and women! There were individual changing rooms, thankfully, but it was quite a shock, as I have never experienced co-ed locker rooms before.

Anyway, back to triathlon.

A commonly overlooked aspect of swim training is cross training. It is not necessary to know all four swimming strokes (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle), but it will benefit you as a triathlete or future triathlete to learn at least one other stroke besides freestyle. Today’s workout will allow you to practice the other strokes as well as freestyle.


Cross Training

In a perfect world, it would be great to have everyone learn all four strokes in swimming. If you do have the time, I recommend doing this. However, if you can learn two other strokes or even just one, you will be helping your swimming and hence your triathlon.

Cross training in the water will allow you to avoid injuries, mix up workouts to not get bored, and actually help improve your freestyle.

Backstroke is the best stroke to learn after freestyle. It is basically freestyle on your back. I do not have a course to give you on learning backstroke, but many of the coaches on my findacoach page,, can help you with the basics you will need. Backstroke can also help you with the hip rotation and arm pull aspects of freestyle, as well as balance in the water.

The following workout will emphasize the back/free relationship.

Workout of the Month- Backstroke Emphasis

While swimming this workout, pay close attention to the freestyle/backstroke relationship throughout. Rotate hips, keep head still, bend elbow on pull.

WARM UP: 300 Free, every 4th length backstroke

DRILL: 150- alternating 4 strokes Free, 4 strokes Back

Pay attention to your hip rotation on both strokes, as well as in the transition from one to the other.
4×75’s Any combo of Free/Back Rest=:15
4×25’s Free with Fists Rest=:10

MAIN: 3x(3×150, 1×100)
150’s: :15 Rest
Set #1) 50 Back/100 Free
#2) 50 Free/50 Back/50 Free
#3) 150 Free straight
100’s: All Free 1:00 Rest

WARM DOWN: 200 Kick/Swim, alternate by 25’s. Kick on your side (same for back and free!)

TOTAL: 2550