3 New Rules of Swim Training

Swimming might seem like a sport that experiences little change. The same advice is dished out again and again, making it difficult for athletes to improve.

There have been some important changes over the past several decades. Up until about the mid-1990s, the common wisdom for freestyle was to look forward as you swim. The thinking was that, you want to look to where you are going as opposed to another direction.

More: 10 Elements of a Perfect Freestyle Stroke

Some of the leading swim coaches at the time showed how bringing your head down actually improves buoyancy, and thus, saves energy in your freestyle.

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This won't make much of a difference for a drop dead 50 freestyle swimmer. But for a triathlete swimming a kilometer or two in a race, this makes all the difference in the world.

More: 10 Steps to Improving Your Triathlon Swim

Coaches also are advising swimmers shift from a higher-yardage (distance) based training to a more well-rounded one.

Swim training continues to evolve and triathletes are increasingly turning to new methods to prepare for race season. Try to follow these three swim-training rules as you prepare for your next triathlon.

Less is More

This is great news for those who would rather be out there biking and running. If swimming is your weakest of the three disciplines, it doesn't pay off to spend several hours each week in the pool and neglecting your other workouts in the process.

Of course, you still want to prioritize technique. Instead of worrying so much about the quantity of your workout (i.e. your time in the water, number of laps or number of yards), a more efficient and effective approach to swim training is to focus on quality.

For example, you may be able to get just as much or more out of a 2,000-yard workout as you would out of a 4,000-yard workout, if you focus on specific technique work as well as sprints combined with interval training.

Strength and Flexibility

This isn't a brand new strategy. However, it has become more important as workouts and training shift from quantity to quality.

More: Build Core Strength and Endurance Without Crunches

With the right strength training program, and a little yoga mixed in, it is much easier to skip the occasional pool workout altogether than it used to be.

Gym time can be minimal. Many triathletes are finding out the benefits of CrossFit workouts, which take as little as a few minutes to complete, but result in greater core strength and greater energy for your triathlons.

Wetsuit Technology has Improved

Most of the major wetsuit manufacturers today—Orca, Blue Seventy, 2XU, Zone 3, Speedo and Quintana Roo—offer specialized forearm panels that actually help swimmers produce a stronger pull.

It may seem like cheating, but, if you're not doing it...you may be missing out on that extra advantage! Many of the new triathlon wetsuits are coming with zippers that provide for faster removal after the swim. No more struggling with unzipping.

More: Triathlons to Do in 2013

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