Friday, March 16, 2012

To Draft Or Not To Draft?

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics:

Corby, UK - 18th April 2012
Full information: here
Drafting another swimmer (see the two ways here) can save you up to 38% of your energy expenditure. With such large savings on offer, swimming in a good draft can feel very easy despite you moving at a decent pace. In a race situation it may actually feel too slow to you and you may be tempted to swim round the swimmer you are drafting and go your own way.

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 another swimmer, 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 in a race (i.e. whether to stay in the draft or go along and find another faster swimmer). There's only one way to develop your drafting pace judgement and that's 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 in open water swimming.

In fact, the Swim Smooth philosophy is that stroke technique, swimming fitness and open water skills are equally important and all should be given equal priority in your training. Our new UK Certified Coaches follow this philosophy in their squads sessions by including regular open water skills sessions. They're great fun and can really transform your performances in open water.

Don't Like Drafting?

Many swimmers say that they dislike drafting and that's only natural, the concentration required and the hustle and bustle of swimming close to other swimmers can feel a little disconcerting at first. Like anything though, with practise you can become familiar and comfortable drafting and the performance improvements on offer are too large to ignore. Drafting well can easily be worth two minutes per km swum!

In summary then, always remember the number one rule of drafting: PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT

Swim Smooth!

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