Open Water Swim Tips from Joe Friel

Sunday, March 4, 2012 by admin
Andy Potts

Andy Potts Swimming at 2010 Ironman World Championships

As a tri club, we were lucky enough to have Joe Friel come speak to us on February 10, 2012, at our Triathlon Success for 2012 seminar.

He had some great information about open water swim technique that I want to share.

With regards to arm entry, he said that for pool swimming (competitive swimming) you think about slipping your hand in half way between your head and your fully outstretched arm. For open water swimming, you don’t do this. Instead, you take your arm out of the water, fling/stretch it all the way out, and slap it into the water. If you watch some of the top pro triathletes, you will see this form. They kind of straight arm it, and fling their arm into the water.

He also said that this arm entry helps fix the lack of body rotation issue. He pointed out that if you are stretching your arm out fully that your hip will follow. Thus, body rotation. So you don’t have to think about rotating your hips and body while swimming.

When your arms go into the water, you want them to be wide and not cross over your mid-line. To help you visualize his point, think of your head as 12:00. Your left arm goes in at 11:00, and your right arm in at 1:00 (my example, not his).

Once you have flung your arm all the way out, and you have entered at 11:00/1:00, you immediately take your hand, and point your fingers straight down. What a lot of people do is start to pull through with a straight arm – which pushes the water down so you don’t propel yourself forward – then the fingers point down, and the elbow comes up. The fingers need to point down immediately after entering the water, so the elbow is high and the pull starts when your hand enters the water.

Overall I found it to be very interesting and I’m certainly going to think about some of what he said during my next swim training session. I know I’m fast pool swimmer, but a bit slower in open water. I want to get faster in open water, so why not try?


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