Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Utah Masters Clinic

This past Saturday, Utah Masters hosted a free clinic for current USMS members at the Olympus Aquatics Center.

The clinic had four "stations" including: open water/triathlon, starts, flip turns, and video stroke analysis.

SLOW was in charge of the open water / triathlon portion of the clinic.  We walked each group through some fundamental skills including: sighting and swimming straight, mass starts, buoy turns and drafting.

Below is a summary of some of the information presented:

Swimming Straight / Sighting

Eyes Closed Drill
Swim across the pool with your eyes closed. This can help to point out some imbalances in your stroke. If you find that you tend to drift to one side of the other, pay attention to where your hands are entering the water. If your hands cross over the mid-line of your body, you will tend to drift to one side.

Bilateral Breathing (breathing on both sides)
Learning to breath on both sides can help balance your stroke and help you swim straighter. In addition, it gives you the flexibility to switch the side you breath on if needed (sun glare, another swimmer splashing, wind, etc). If the course follows the shore line, being able to breath on both sides also give you the flexibility to sight to the side to see if you are on course.

Ideally sighting should be with your eyes just above the surface of the water and should be incorporated into your stroke. If you crane your neck or stop to see where you are, you will wear yourself out. Take a quick peek before or after taking a breath. If you don't see what you were looking for the first time, don't worry. Take a few more strokes and look again.

Here is a good video about open water sighting.

Mass Starts

We practiced a few, in water, mass starts with each group to give them a taste of what it will be like on race day.  If you are not comfortable being around so many people, you can position yourself to the back or side of the pack. The disadvantage of doing this is you have to swim through all the water churned up by everyone ahead of you.

As the countdown starts, prepare yourself by getting your hips up and your legs behind you in a horizontal position. Sculling with you hands will help keep you in position and ready for the start.

Buoy Turns

We opened a lot of eyes with our groups when we showed them a faster way to get around a buoy. You can lose a lot of people during your race on the turns if you practice this turn technique.

The basic idea is that as you get even with, or even a little past the buoy, stretch out the arm closest to the buoy. Take one backstroke with the opposite arm, and then really pick up your kick so you don't lose your momentum.  Here is a link with some pictures.


We didn't have a lot of time to talk about or practice. The long and short of it is that you can save energy and swim faster (assuming you are drafting on a swimmer faster than you) by drafting. The ideal position is to have your shoulder even with the hip of the person you are drafting on. You should be swimming very close to get the maximum benefit.  For beginners, an easier position to be in is directly behind the swimmer you are drafting on.

Be aware that the person you are drafting on many not like it and they may try to lose you by speeding up, slowing down, kicking you, etc.

Here is a good video about drafting: