Diff'rent strokes

My running and cycling are, er, OK. But my swimming is a bit dodgy. So before the London tri I've decided to take some swimming lessons.
My question is... at this stage, should I work on improving breast stroke, which I can do, or learning front crawl, which I am hopeless at?!
I've heard swimming breaststroke in a wetsuit ain't ideal. Thanks


  • crawl girl.. crawl.
    it's all in the timing.
    a few pointers from a decent coach and you'll be away.
  • Yeah front crawl is best and when you get a few pointers from a swiming coach you will very quickly get faster with a lot less effort.
  • Thought so. I hope these lessons work then. My crawl is truly terrible
  • Iused to put in so much effort to get nowhere until i got some coaching and now i can swim a whole length without stopping!

    just kidding!!

    2 lengths!!!

    We manage about 2000m's in the mornings and i seem to get out fairly fresh now as before i needed gas and air.
  • Blimey... 2000 metres eh!
    I only need to be able to do 750.
    But that's 750 metres a. without stopping for a rest b. without pushing off every 25 metres and c. wearing a wetsuit which with my currently flab endowed torso renders it rather impossible to breathe.
    oh and d. while getting kicked in the face by front crawling competitors, apparently.
  • You will swim faster in your suit than you will in the pool, flab or not!!

    And im sure you have'nt that much?!
  • Oh! and does my bum look good in this?????!
  • If that's what tri training does for you, then I guess so!
  • Hello G I would recommend you have a go at the front crawl in open water once or twice before the race as you have to "sight" forward rather than use the pool floor as a guide
  • That's a good point actually. The bottom of the dock for London tri is nine metres deep.
  • I could not get the hang of swimming with my head in the water when it was murky, not until the last 200 metres of London, anyhow, then I told myself if I wanted to keep doing these I was going to have to put my head in it and have been fine since. I do have real problems swimming in a straight line though, which wastes time and energy.

  • So how do you swim in a straight line? Is it a closely guarded secret or something that happens by accident? Find someone good and hold on to their ankle with your teeth?

  • Try to practice crawl, still plenty of time.

    I had the same problem. In the beginning I was not able to do 50m crawl. Then I practiced with a pool buoy and focused on long stroke. I find swimming with the pool buoy is very similar to swimming with a wet suit. I hardly use my legs, someone told me I should just keep them relaxed, they will be required later.

    Good news is you HAVE to use a wet suit in London tri (whatever the temperature will be like on that day). In other events wetsuits are not allowed if the water is too warm. In addition there is no current or tide in the dock, it's dead easy, just swimming along the rope. No sea lions, sharks, other big fish, very very easy and safe.

    Then I read a book called Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin, this gave me a bit of idea about technique. There are master classes too.

    Yes, I agree practice orientation. The water in the dock is quite dirty (very very deep green) and you usually can't see anything. Maybe look around every 50 strokes (but don't stop), there are big yellow ballons, this will help you.
  • Thanks guys
    Apparently there are lessons at my local pool, plan to give one a try next weekend.
    My crawl technique definitely needs work.
  • Try to learn bilateral breathing (every 3rd stroke) - in open water swimming it's crucial to know where you're heading for and all too easy to drift off course, which means you end up swimming more metres. Practice raising your head every few strokes to correct your direction if necessary. A drill we use in tri swim group training is swimming a 50-metre length with your eyes closed! It really concentrates your stroke and direction.
  • Yes bilateral breathing helps keep you going straight and the total immersion book is good.

    Also practise open water not just for the sitting but it's a very different experience and that takes time to get used to.

  • But if you have to revert to breastroke it isn't the end of the world.
    I've seen many triathletes take 30 seconds or so out in the middle of the race to do breastroke.
    No problem in a wetsuit if you get a thinner one in the legs to make them less buoyant.
    Advantages are breathing every stroke is great for people with dodgy sinuses, sighting the shortest route is easier and getting into the slipstream of other competitors as they come by is easier.

    We shouldn't be put off from competing just because we can't crawl.

  • No dont be put off by breast stroke, I guess for some of us less experienced swimmers breaststroke will be an option (certainly for me) and its faster than my crawl. Im a pretty powerful breaststroke swimmer though and only started learning crawl 4 months ago, luckily I can breastroke as fast as a lot of the swimmers at my local pool can crawl so im hoping it will hold me in good stead it I need it.
  • I used the breast stroke last year and over 750m I was probably only about three or four minutes slower than if I'd attempted to swim crawl. It was actually quite enjoyable being able to observe what was going on around me and also
    to be able swim in a straight line with no problem. I finished the swim still feeling fresh and able to do a good bike, run, so if your crawl is not so good then I reckon it's good option.

    I saw quite a few people with poor crawl technique exhust themselves and I can't imagine they had an easy time for the rest of the race. A few minutes are easily made up on the bike.
  • Oh dear now I can't make up my mind!!
    I would probably feel safer doing breaststroke given that I have only got a few months in which to learn a proper crawl technique.
    I will just have to experiment a bit!
    I hope my new road bike will save me a few mins... If I ever get used to the aggressive riding position. But that's another thread entirely.
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