Archive for the ‘Technique’ Category

DON’T Do These in Triathlon Swimming


DON’T ……
1. Breathe every 3rd stroke or higher.
2. Hold your breath before expulsion.
3. Breathe through your nose.
4. Take short, shallow breaths.
5. Linger while taking a breath.
6. Focus on front quadrant or catch-up style swimming.
7. Over rotate with hips.
8. Have low strokes rates.
9. Glide.
10. Be “loose” in the water.
11. Be a “scrunchy” swimmer. ie. look like a fetus.
12. Have a BIG focus on Distance Per Stroke (DPS).
13. Focus on least strokes across the pool.
14. Cup your hands.
15. “Salute” by placing your hand close to your forehead at entry.
16. Swim with straight arms under water.
17. Have your hands cross your mid-line underwater.
18. Have your hands enter of pull outside your shoulder line.
19. Have your elbow BELOW your wrist/hand underwater.
20. Pet the “kitty” underwater, ie. Don’t have a floppy, gentle or loose hand underwater.
21. Do the “S” stroke.
22. Cut your stroke short at the finish.
23. Do most pool swimming drills.
24. Do Sculling.
25. Focus on kicking harder.
26. Ignore using an ankle strap or swim snorkel.
27. Think working on technique solves it all.

Think this is all there is ………

The most important element of swim technique is tautness! The opposite of #10.


DON’T ……
1. Train at one speed only.
2. Swim straight workouts.
3. Swim in open water ONLY.
4. Swim long, non-stop open water sessions ONLY.
5. Have your main swim set(s) less than 50% of your workout time.
6. Not vary your workout composition.
7. Follow what Andy Potts does or ANY faster known swimmer/triathlete.
8. Follow instruction from Michael Phelps’ coach. Would you listen to Usain Bolt’s coach?
9. Wait until 3-4 weeks before your race to swim.
10. Eliminate warm-up or have small ones.
11. Forget to incorporate FAST swimming in EVERY workout. (May differ for some pros).
12. Wear fins in your main swim set.
13. Always use your pull buoy.
14. Wear BIG hand paddles. (Especially the pros who can’t drive them correctly).
15. Run or ride before KEY swim workouts.
16. Think just building your “engine” only will make you improve.
17. Think MORE is always better.
18. Train just HARD every day.

The most important element of training is consistency!


DON’T ……
1. Race in a wetsuit or goggles without testing them first.
2. Use a wetsuit too tight in the shoulders.
3. Race without a proper warm-up. (Everyone, pros alike are guilty of this).
4. State to self: “I just need to get to my bike”.
5. Start in front if NOT a fast swimmer.
6. Sprint the start IF not prepared for such.
7. Be afraid of a rip current at the start.
8. Emphasize drafting. (Can be different for SOME pros).
9. Forget to sight FREQUENTLY.
10. Sight “water-polo” style. (May be different for SOME pros).
11. Just follow the person in front of you.
12. Swim in the middle of the pack.
13. Breathe every 3rd stroke.
14. Tap feet unless you want a broken nose.
15. Swim with pool-polished strokes in choppy conditions.
16. ONLY measure your improvement by time.
17. Ignore the 1-body length rule (mainly for elite athletes).

The most important element of racing is experience. Race to “Be Race Ready”.


DON’T ……
1. Think you can improve your swim on your own.
2. Hire a coach without specific triathlon swim/swim coaching experience.
3. Listen to fast swimmers on technique, unless they understand open water needs (MOST don’t).
4. Expect pool coaches to know much about open water technique for triathletes. They don’t.
5. Think any coach knows it ALL.
*6. Hire a coach just because they have a coaching credential OR coached some named athlete.
7. Hire a coach if swimming is neither their strength nor yours (btw – same applies to bike and run).
8. Hire a coach who can’t/won’t explain why they prescribe their training.
9. Hire a coach who thinks there is ONLY one training route (theirs) to performance.
10. Put stock in coaches who state swim is not important. The sport is S-B-R!
11. Only swim in a Masters group if there isn’t a focus for triathletes.
12. Forget to thank your coach – some still do it for free.

The most important element to learning is finding the right teacher/coach for you! But, they MUST have honed their craft. There’s an ‘ole adage: Did the coach make the athlete, or, did the athlete make the coach? *(#6). Make sure the answer is the former. Review ALL their athletes, and then look for development and evolution of performance across the group. Low athlete turnover is also a strong indicator.

The best coaches continue their knowledge quest, admitting what they know presently may very well change with more information. These coaches will allow their athletes’ exposure to other coaches especially when the coach may have limited experience as a former swimmer, swim/triathlon coach, and time at the craft (how much time? At least 10-15 years). Here are a handful of coaches worth following for TRIATHLON swim specifics: Matt Dixon; Brett Sutton (follow the substance); Joel Filliol; Mike Collins; Jim Vance; Swim Smooth; Sara McLarty. They are many others.


DON’T ……
1. Read or follow non-proven coaching instruction.
2. Watch You Tube swimming.
3. Buy a wetsuit based on price OR endorsement.
4. Think a swim lesson, clinic, camp or short training block in itself will make a difference.


DON’T ……
1. Think you can be competitive (front pack) on less than 30k a week without a prior swim background.
3. Train your swim sessions like your bike or run sessions.
3. Run or bike before a KEY swim session.
*4. Race without a proper warm-up. Little has changed here in 31 years since watching my first tri; shocking actually.
5. Waste your time swimming Andy Potts’ workouts. You’re not him.
*6. Skip acquiring open water skills, no matter how fast you are. Many lack these.
7. Do all your swim training in a pool.
8. Train your strength more IF swim is your weakness.
*9. Over rest your swim going into a race unless a competitive swimmer.
*10. Wear those HUGE paddles. Not even some elite swimmers can drive them correctly.
11. Do the “S” stroke.
*12. Breathe every 3rd stroke or higher in a race.

Good luck in your quest for improvement. Gerry Rodrigues.
If you wish to add to the list, send me an email with your don’t:


Swim meets motivate! They reinforce our training regimes as evidenced in the multitude of “best time” performances.

Many Tower 26 members attended our meet, performed extraordinarily well receiving another jolt of motivation and validation.

Here’s why it’s important to attend a meet: Almost every triathlete runs either a 5k, 10k, 1/2 or full marathon for a PR in addition to their tri racing schedule. It helps measure improvement, bolstering confidence, and is a reinforcement to their training regime. Improvement validates the training process, BUT more importantly it elevates confidence ultimately leading to improved performances in ones tri races.

The same should occurs for swimming, EXCEPT, few triathletes enter swim meets. Perhaps it’s too intimidating, even though that elevated confidence level post event would lead to enhanced tri swim performances. Making the meet experience a gentle introduction, we created a swim meet at our home facility bringing in a meet referee, programmer, and necessary equipment….. our members just had to do was show up. Many did.

Let’s take a look into some results from last week with a particular athlete in mind, FRANCISCO CORTEZ.

Francisco started swimming with Tower 26 in November 2010, he was one of our initial members. His swim confidence was low, his skills rudimentary, and his specific swim fitness fairly non-existent. He swam 100s on a 2:15 – 2:30 interval or slower; his repeat times ranged from 2:00 – 2:15; he struggled as many do at the beginning.

Francisco believed in and executed upon the process we provide. His 100 time last week was 1:16.5. A massive improvement. For sure, he no longer views himself as he did last month, last quarter, or last year. Look for big things from Francisco this season. Congrats Farncisco!

Other significant improvements were seen in the results of:
BARD AUSTIN, who took one of our Swim Improvement clinics in February, and then joined our training program. I would estimate Brad’s swim performance in February at around 1:20 for an all out 100; pretty good. Last week he swam 1:01.4. His 1000 was a smashing 13:18. He had no swimming background, rather an 800 m track runner.

CHRIS KAVEH, could barely complete a 50 without utter exhaustion when he joined us last November. His eventual improvement in swim specific fitness would assist him swimming 100s on a 2:30 interval. Chris swam his 100 last week in an astounding 1:21.09.

JEN TETRICK is a professional triathlete. We met at Matt Dixon’s purplepatch pro camp in March 2011. Her biking and running were good, but her swimming needed lots of work for a PRO, an important distinction. Jen moved to LA last December, making Tower 26 her destination swim improvement program. She has powered-up her 1.2 mile swim from 34 minutes to 28 minutes, AND, she stopped the clock in her 100 free last weekend in 1:03.75. At camp last year, her 75 free was 1:03. Her journey began then.

NANCY McDONALD is one of Tower 26’s remote clients for a couple years. Her voyage began with around a 1:30 personal best 100 free and 17 minute 1000 free. Last weekend she stopped the clock at 14:21.9 in her 1000, and 1:13.7 in her 100.

There were many, many other notable performances that stood out, above are just a few, but the success derived is the same because the journey is similar:
1) decide to do it;
2) understand it’s a 2-year plan, there are no short-cuts;
3) commit to your part of execution;
4) be CONSISTENT; and
5) set-up a mechanism for measuring performance.

Improved results WILL come.

Recognizing a few other performances:

SEAN JEFFERSON is a 3:56 mile runner and indoor NCAA mile champion. Recently turned triathlete needing to improve his swim, he moved to LA in February joining Tower 26. His test 1000 and 100 then were 12 minutes and 1:02. Last week Sean swam 11:13.56 and 56.88. He’s motivated even more now.

SARAH PIAMPIANO is another purplepatch pro traithlete who moved to LA in January for swim improvement. Her initial 1000 and 100 free time trials in January were 15:52 and 1:21. Last weekend she smashed those with a 13:17 1k and 1:11.01 for the 100 free. Sarah recently won the New Orleans 70.3. Her story worth reading is here:

BRYAN PAUL could swim? Who would think the former Washington State quarterback would improve his 1000 and 100 free by over two minutes, and, 10 seconds respectively in just a few short months. His 13:29.8 1k and 60.66 100 free were inspiring performances, BUT he put in lots of effort and time into his training these last several months.

Chris Wright, Chris Doss, Reilly Smith, Susan Moon, Greg Wootton, Baker Smith, Greg Kearns, David Lee, Leslie Steiner, Eric Carysfort, Rebecca Nevitt, Stacey Stern, Chris Plourde, Julia Kolyadenko, Mark Vermeersch, Amy Aukstikalnis, Mattie Reyes, Carolyn Nohejl, Mike Tatum, James Duffy, Eric Reid, Monica Morant, Mike Schiepke, Ben Patterson, Susan Kallal, and Chase Watts all made their commitment with similar stories.

These “Big Guns” all put in sub 60 second 100s: Mike Tatum, Eric Craysfort, Sean Jefferson, Todd Larlee, Mark Vermeersch, David Lee and Chase Watts. Both Todd and Mike posted 57+ 100 swims. Congrats! Knocking at the sub minute barrier are: Bryan Paul, Brad Austin, and James Duffy.

Meet results can be found here:

Club member, Carolyn Nohejl posted some event photos here:

Up next is our 1-hour swim for distance coming up on May 20 at the Cost to Coast event in Culver City, and, our May 26 Swim Improvement Clinic. Details in a couple days.

Gerry Rodrigues
“Be Race Ready”