Tips for Efficient Triathlon Swimming

Here is an easy-to-remember list of tips to help improve your swimming efficiency.



Regularly count your strokes. Your best measure of efficiency is how many strokes you take getting from one end of the pool to the other. As fatigue increases and efficiency falls, your stroke count may go up by thirty percent, or higher, as you diligently tell your nervous system to lapse into inefficiency.

Practice stroke elimination. Make efficiency, not distance or speed, your objective. Set a stroke-count target of 10 percent less compared to your norm. For example, if you usually take twenty-two strokes per length on endurance swims or repeats, set a new limit for yourself of just 20.

Instead of how fast you can finish, or how tight an interval you can manage, see how far into the swim or set you can hold that count. (Note: You should swim easier, not harder, on your lowest count; do not strain to bring it down.)

Streamline yourself with skills. Work on getting your nervous system used to efficiency-promoting skills that make you swim like a fish when you’re not counting strokes. These would take a lot of work in order to be comfortable, for the reason that none of these skills comes naturally, however they produce good results.

These three skill drills will make an immediate difference:

  • Hang your head. Head-spine alignment is really important to efficient swimming. During training, release your head’s weight in order to find its most natural position and do not hold it up. Look directly down, not forward. Let your opponents do all the looking during the competition, and just follow the swimmers ahead of you, limiting your peeks forward to once every twenty strokes.
  • Lengthen your body. A longer body line allows you to swim faster and easier since it lessens drag. Concentrate on using your arms to lengthen your body line instead of pushing water back. Like sliding into a mail slot, slip your hand and forearm into the water.
  • Move like water. Water rewards fluent motion and penalizes rough or rushed movement. Pierce the water; slip through the smallest possible hole. Swim as silently as possible. During the race, make it your ultimate goal to be the quiet center of any pack you’re in, stroking slower and with much less splash compared to all the flailing arms around you.

Swim less, drill more. If you still find yourself not able to decrease your stroke count to a consistent twenty strokes for every twenty-five yards (about 23m) even with your best efforts, then it’s better for you to do more drills and less swimming.

Your stroke inefficiencies are extremely stubborn that each lap you do makes them more permanent. The only way to break those bad human swimming behaviors, and build new fishlike ones, is to spend more time doing drills than conventional swimming.

For the following month or two, try doing a minimum of sixty percent of your distance in stroke drills and see how your stroke reacts. Drills must constitute no less than 25 % of your total workout time even when you reduce your stroke count to twenty strokes for every twenty-five yards.

Good luck!

Tri Trainer

Free Triathlon Training Guide
Free 7 Step Plan Design