Triathlon season is fast approaching, and now would be a valuable time to cover a matter that will be urgent to your training this time of year.
First, let's see just how urgent it is to you. Take this quick quiz:
- Are you a triathlete with more than five years experience in the sport?
- Do you have a competitive swimming background?
- Have you ever been coached in your swimming?
- Do you have a strategy for your triathlon swim?
- Do things typically go according to your plan?
- Do you normally get on the bike feeling comfortable and ready to ride?
If you're answering a lot of these questions by shaking your head, I've got great news for you. You urgently need a swim coach.
Yes, this is actually good news. Because what this means is that you have an extraordinary opportunity to make huge performance improvements over last year. All your base training is about to get a serious turbo-charge. Time is of the essence, but hydrodynamics are on your side.
One of the most surprising things I discovered in writing my book on the science of triathlon is that research unanimously indicates that triathletes are terrible swimmers. Maybe this shouldn't have surprised me, since I was comparatively ignorant of swimming science relative to cycling and running. Triathlon writers are a product of their society. We write about the things the readership is interested in, and triathletes are more interested in cycling and running. As a result, their swimming performance lags.
But what is amazing is just how much it lags.
Even professional triathletes are terribly inefficient in the water compared to Olympic or collegiate swimmers. Measurements show that their comparatively poor technique causes triathletes to waste nearly twice as much energy in the water as a well-trained swimmer.
To put it in a different perspective, the slowest woman to finish the 10K swim at the 2012 London Olympics still swam a faster pace than Chrissie Wellington's best Ironman swim. True, the Olympian didn't have to get on a bike after she came out of the water, but one does not simply beat Chrissie Wellington in a swim two-and-a-half times over without stopping.