Breaststroke For Triathlon?
by Garry Cummins
I’m currently training for my first triathlon next year and intend to use the breaststroke on the swimming leg. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Intelligent Triathlon Replies:
This is a common question from many beginner triathletes. Front crawl (freestyle) is much faster than breaststroke but requires much more practice to make it effective. Breaststroke a perfectly legitimate means of swimming in triathlon but, as with any stroke we would suggest you spend as much time training using breaststroke as possible, so you are most comfortable with it.
However if you really enjoy this first experience, aim to learn to do front crawl as it will help make you go faster. You can still train using breaststroke initially but build in some lengths using front crawl. There are some excellent articles on technique on the Swim Smooth website (www.swimsmooth.com) that may help. Or consider getting some swimming lessons to learn good technique from the outset.
A couple of things to consider though:-
1. Be aware of your fellow competitors. Breaststroke takes up more space as your arms and legs go out to the side. If you are in a narrow lane in a pool you might end up kicking people. If you are in a mass start open water swim you will definitely kick people.
2. If you are swimming open water and using a wetsuit, the extra buoyancy from the suit can mean you sit very close to the surface of the water and swimming breaststroke might mean you end up kicking out of the water sometimes. Not a problem, just practice in your wetsuit.
3. There is a good chance you will end up going slower than other competitors so make sure you swim with people of a similar speed. Pool based competitons often ask for a projected time so they can match people up. Be honest, which means practicing the race distance to know your time. If you are open water swimming you will probably be in an age group wave. So find yourself some room on the edge of the pack and set off at your own pace.