I’ve spoken to a fair few triathletes this week about how to improve their swim.

One thing that surprised me is how many triathletes ignore the benefits of swimming a different stroke

Yes, focusing on developing your freestyle fitness and mechanics is important but could your front crawl technique and efficiency be improved by working on other swim strokes?

Damn right it could!

Working on your backstroke for instance will help you understand a lot about your catch and pull phase and how the water feels in your hand and forearm. 

It can also highlight any shoulder mobility issues that you might need to work on outside of the pool.

Here’s a good way to look at the benefits of working on your backstroke.

Have you ever done a kick drill on your back and found yourself going nowhere even though you kicked as hard as you could?

A knee kick will do just that.

In your warm up or between focused sets switching between front crawl and backstroke may well help re enforce good technique and feel.

I’ll let you into a secret

I grew up swimming and was one of the fastest breaststroke swimmers in the squad.

Breaststroke is heavy on the pull phase, but it also teaches you the feel of the water over the whole body, timing and breath control.

Now I’m not saying you should spend every session working on perfecting your backstroke or breaststroke

But what I am saying is by interweaving these strokes in easier sets may well help give you a deeper understanding of how to be more efficient, aerodynamic and powerful in freestyle.

These strokes are worth investing in.

Simon de Burgh
2 X Winner of Gym Based PT
Level 2 British Triathlon Coach
Performance & Nutrition Director

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