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Five tips to become a better swimmer

Tips from Antoine Desroches, a top-five finisher at Ironman Mont Tremblant, on how to improve your stroke this winter

Swimming is a complex discipline. To get faster requires repeated efforts in the pool and continuous refinement of your stroke. Antoine Desroches, a professional triathlete and TMC contributor, shares five tips he uses to refine his technique and improve his efficiency in the water.

Related: La natation 101

Antoine Desroches fourth at Ironman Mont Tremblant 2018. Photo: Jerome Bergeron.

Video yourself swimming

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to improve your technique if you don’t see yourself swimming. The next time you go to the pool, ask a friend to film you. After your swim, take the time to watch the video – slow down the speed and analyze your movement.

If you have little to no technical experience, sign up for a swim clinic and consider working with a coach.

Here is a video filmed by Bart Coaching of Swimsmooth Montreal during a technical swim session.

Watch swimming videos

After analyzing your swim technique, take the time to watch swimming videos on Youtube. This will help you better understand how you can improve your technique.

Related: Swimming strong: The power of paddles

Katie Ledecky’s Freestyle

Take the time to swim slowly

“It’s easy to have good technique when you swim at race pace,” says Alex Sereno, a high-performance triathlon coach in Montreal, Quebec. “But, when you intentionally swim slower, it’s much more difficult to maintain the right position and have a good arm catch.”

Incorporate a few sets of 25 to 50 metres of slow swimming and focus on your catch and body position.

Related: Using a snorkel will help improve your swim technique

Swim with a band

“If I had to choose a one piece of equipment, I would choose my band,” says Desroches. The band goes around your ankles to prevent you from kicking, forcing you to have a good stroke and a straight trunk.

Unlike a pull buoy, which stops kicking and adds flotation, using a band forces you keep your hips up.

Related: Training with a pull buoy reaps rewards

Practice all four strokes – freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke

Butterfly helps increase strength in the shoulders and core.

The vast majority of triathletes swim only freestyle because that’s the stoke they use in triathlons. However, swimming all four strokes can improve your technique and efficiency in freestyle.

The butterfly is very good for building strength in your shoulders and core. Backstroke is great for improving your shoulder flexibility, and breaststroke can help improve your catch and “feel” for the water.