Technical Components of the Triathlon Swim

The most technically demanding portion of the triathlon is the swim. Most swims take place in the open water; a lake, the ocean or a river. Although the legs contribute to the forward propulsion, swimming is primarily an upper body sport.

Front Crawl

Triathletes use the crawl stroke because it is the fastest stroke, and it provides some rest periods during the arm recovery.  To minimize the drag created by moving through the water, the body remains as  streamlined as possible.

The forward propulsion comes from the power phase of the crawl stroke.  When the hand enters the water at the beginning of the stroke, it grabs the water then pulls the body up to the point of entry using an S-shaped maneuver.

Small Changes

Once the shoulder is lined up with the hand, the motion changes from a pull to a push.  As the person becomes more technically efficient, small changes take place in the overall stroke to improve speed; the chin stays tucked, the palms face back, and the elbow is held high.

The legs mainly serve to stabilize as the swimmer rolls to take a breath, or lifts her head to sight in an open water swim.

Good luck!


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