In a race situation this creates a common dilemma, should you stay in an easy draft or swim around and go on your own? In this situation how do you know what's right to do? At the moment we're half way through our clinic series in the UK and in the section on open water skills this is the most common question we've been asked by the swimmers. Here's our answer:
Pace Awareness When Drafting
To know whether you are really moving too slowly when drafting, you need to practise this in the controlled environment of the pool to learn how it feels. Grab a buddy who is a slightly better swimmer than you and have him or her swim at your target race pace for around 200-400m while you draft them. Settle into the draft and get into the rhythm of swimming - you'll soon gain an appreciation of how this target pace feels - it may surprise you how easy it is!
Pacing skills are a very important part of being a good swimmer but as a triathlete or open water swimmer you also need pace judgement when drafting so that you can make tactical decisions like this in a race. There's only one way to develop your drafting pace judgement and that's with practise. For that reason we strongly recommend you work on your drafting skills (and also your sighting and navigation skills) all year round in the pool. It's great fun and will really help you achieve your potential come the open water season.
|Drafting skills are important for any swimmer|
to master, whatever their ability level
Don't Like Drafting?
Many swimmers say that they dislike drafting and that's only natural, the concentration required is higher and the hustle and bustle of swimming close to other swimmers can feel a little disconcerting at first. However, like with anything, with practise you can become familiar and comfortable with it and the performance improvements on offer are too large to ignore. Drafting well can easily be worth two minutes per km swum!
Always remember the number one rule of drafting: PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT