Triathlon Swim Drills | Ready to improve your swim?

Triathlon Swim Drills

If you want to be faster in the swim it is not just about swimming endless laps until your hair turns green. Swimming is the most technical of the three disciplines in triathlon. This means that there are huge gains to be had if you focus on fixing form and improving economy. To fix your form you have to make time for triathlon swim drills. I personal have all of my athletes incorporate drills into their warm up year round. There are several drills to choose from, but these four are a staple in all of my workouts.

Just getting started in the swim check out this post to help you get started off right: Getting Started in the Swim, Swim Gear Bag, Swim Lane Ettiqute

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Catch Up Drill

For the catch up drill you will start by holding your left arm directly out in front of you while the right arm completes the crawl stroke (this is the stroke typically used in free style.) The right arm will “catch” the left arm, from here the right arm is now held in place while the left arm completes the stroke. The purpose of this drill is to elongate your stroke and help you learn not to cut it short at the top of the stroke.

Finger Tip Drill

For this drill you will focus on keeping your elbow high through the recovery phase of the crawl (freestyle) stroke. This means that every time your arm is out of the water your elbow is held high as your finger tips skim the surface of the water. The purpose of this drill his to tech proper form for the recovery phase of the crawl stroke. During your regular stroke those fingers will hover about one inch above the water.

Fist Drill

For fist drill you will clench your hands into fists as you perform the crawl (freestyle) stroke. The purpose of this stroke is to help you utilize your forearm as a paddle. in swimming the surface of your palm is used like a paddle to propel you through the water, when you eliminate this surface you are forced to rely more on the surface of your for arm which is also an important, though often under used surface for propulsion in swimming.

Single Arm Drill

For the single arm drill you will use the crawl (freestyle) stroke, however you will only use your right arm for the first lap, and then only your left arm for the second lap. Focus on maintaining your proper position and form even though you are only using one arm. This purpose of this drill is to focus on your body roll, glide, and  utilizing your entire arm as a paddle for propulsion.

Bringing it all together

Triathlon swim drills can easily be incorporated into the warm up of your swim workouts. Here is a sample warm up that incorporates all of the drills we have talked about so far.

Warm up:

200 Easy freestyle

50 Catchup drill down freestyle back

50 Fingertip drill down freestyle back

50 Fist drill down freestyle back

50 Single arm drill right down free style back

50 Single arm drill left down free style back

150 Kick

Now that you are ready to work on your form in the swim make sure to check out these Swim Workouts.

I would love to hear from you, comment below, what is your number one obstacle when it comes to the swim?

Need more help getting started? Check out my Coaching Page or send and email to to find out more about my customized triathlon coaching programs.


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