Triathlon and the Swimming Model component of the program.
Coaches should develop a ‘model’ (i.e. a logical structure or framework that explains how several pieces fit together) to use in their everyday coaching practice. Further models that we develop for our training program, to conceptualize other aspects of performance, should link up with our stroke model because technique will influence everything we do (i.e. energy production, fatigue, strength and flexibility, etc.). At every opportunity coaches should be encouraged to ‘think technique’, ‘teach technique’ and ‘practice technique’ in their coaching.
Correct technique (other factors being equal) is the defining characteristic of successful swimmers because it improves the net balance between increasing propulsive force and reducing resistance.
A good coach needs to define where the athlete falls on the improvement curve in each discipline, beginner, intermediate, advanced or elite. Once you have defined the performance level of the individual triathlete in swimming you can define the individuals program to guarantee the biggest gains.
Define the skills required for each level, to train our triathletes to swim faster and sustain higher velocity for greater distances at each level:
Beginner – Learning the basic mechanics of swimming, drag versus lift forces as a primary source of propulsion. Understanding the propulsive forces in swimming, movement of the arms and legs results in corresponding movement of the water, this is a simple action-reaction force. (Float, scull, head position, rotation around axis, breathing).
Intermediate – Hone the basic mechanics of swimming. Understand the purpose of drills for stroke technique improvement and implement through disciplined practice.
Advanced – Improve Stroke efficiency, and total force production during each stroke cycle as well as improving physiology.
Elite – Improving physiology, general and specific adaptation responses with the application of the different energy systems, progressive overload, recovery and adaptation.
The main purpose of this article is to address the skill sets needed at the beginner/intermediate (average age group) level. As a Coach you must establish what causes a stroke defect? What modified movement patterns should be emphasized? How will these changes contribute to efficient propulsion? Are there other considerations, such as energy expenditure, muscle balance, or range of movement? Understanding the relationships that influence aquatic movement should guide the coach in seeking the appropriate training strategy.