Body Position

Body Position is arguably the most important aspect of triathlon swimming but it is also the most overlooked skill. Body position will greatly affect drag, power development and stability in the water.  We tend to split body position into horizontal and rotational balance. Horizontal balance is optimal when the body forms a straight line with the head, shoulders, hips and feet. Rotational balance is optimal when the body maintains a connection through the center axis. Here are a few common misconceptions about body position:

  • Hands need to extend near the surface
  • Eyes and head look forward
  • A wetsuit will compensate for poor body position 

Working on body position is challenging because there are many complex movements being performed at the same time. Those movements all rely on the body to provide support and balance. The key is to isolate a small fraction of the movements and work on those individually, then carry them into the stroke. Body position should always be a key focus while you swim!  




Head Position

Head position is too low or too high, eyes are looking back or forward respectively.

The head is aligned with the spine, however the head position is changing through the stroke.

The head is aligned with the spine and is stable through the stroke 


The head position changes through the breath; either lifting or tilting.  The breathing occurs late or takes too long to accomplish compared to arm cycle. The head position remains consistent through the breath, while the breath is accomplished within the arm cycle timing 


The hand (arm) is too high in the extension.  The hands (arm) is too low in the extension. The hand is below the surface and aligned with the shoulder (based your flexibility) 


The trunk is not horizontally aligned with the head, feet and spine, generally too low. The chest and hips are out of rotational alignment throughout the stroke. The trunk remains aligned with the body both horizontally and rotational.


The legs are not aligned with the head, hips and spine, generally too low.  The legs are swinging from side to side through the stroke.  The legs remain aligned with the body both horizontally and rotational. 


The arm stroke is timed as a windmill.  The arm stroke has an element of 'catch up', however the breathing is affecting it.  The arm stroke is timed as 3/4 catch up consistently including breathing.


The recovery is crossing over the center line. The chest/shoulder position is collapsing as the arm is entering. The chest remains open through the entry, with the hand entering shoulder width.


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