Triathlon Fitness

Fitness, is an interesting one as swimming is obviously dependent on fitness. However has the question, "Is fitness even important?" ever come across your mind while watching someone who is obviously out of shape flow by you in the water? Swimming is a combination of a skill and fitness based sport. It doesn't matter how fit you are, if you haven't developed the necessary skills of body position, propulsion and rhythm. But, if you are skilled swimmer and are out of shape you will not be able to swim fast either. There are a couple common misconceptions:

  • I can run a fast marathon, why can't I swim a lap? 
  • Swimming a consistent pace for 1 hour is the best way to train. 
  • Dryland training, including flexibility and strength, is unnecessary. 

One interesting term that comes up often is "swimming fitness", what does that mean? Personally, it means can you swim with relaxation and ease, versus hard effort all the time. Great swimmers make it look effortless; that is swimming fitness. 

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Breathing 

Panic and tension throughout the body especially right before attempting a breath 

The swimmer tends to hold their breath between breaths, making it difficult to get a full breath. 

The breath is calm and relaxed, completed within the natural rhythm of the stroke.

Flexibility-
Legs

The hip flexors are extremely tight so that the glutes have difficulty firing.  The ankles and feet are rigid, effectively reducing the forward propulsion. The legs act as a flexible, yet strong whip in a coordinated fashion. 

Flexibility -
Upper Body 

The limited mobility in the chest and shoulders effect the horizontal body position.  The limited mobility in the chest and shoulders affect the power development in the catch. Flexibility in the upper body allows for free range of movements in the pull and recovery.

Relaxation 

Body starts to tighten after a short amount of time. Attempts to 'fight' through the swim. Body remains long and relaxed.

Maintaining 
Efficiency 

Stroke rate increases, coupled with a decrease in speed. Stroke rate increases, but the speed is constant.
Stroke rate and speed remain consistent throughout a race pace set.