A crash in California almost took her leg. A bomb blast in Iraq helped save it.
Getting a triathlon off to a good start by a successful swim may not guarantee a PR but it's always a great way to start. In one of the swim publications I picked up, a piece by Steven Munatones sounded most helpful. I'll present if here with mild editing as I feel it informative to those of us who struggle in open water.
Cyclists, race car drivers and open water swimmers all know the benefits of drafting and positioning. As swimmers take off in an open water race or triathlon and go from buoy to buoy, they create a conga line with seemingly everyone chasing after the person in front of them. Where ideally should you position yourself? It helps to know a bit about water movement.
The Ideal Draft
A swimmer in the open water is essentially a displacement vessel. The bow wave created by a swimmer has forward and lateral movement. These waves move at an angle relative to the direction of the swimmer and are based on the swimmers speed and size. There are three key facts to keep in mind;
1. The faster the lead swimmer, the better your draft will be with all other things being equal.
2. The physically larger the lead swimmer, the more beneficial the draft is for those behind.
3. The closer you are to the lead swimmer, the better your draft.
The Perfect Position
It's a fact known by world-class swimmers: drafting between the ankles and hips is more beneficial than drafting directly behind the lead swimmers for various reasons.
1. When the drafting swimmer reaches near mid-body of the lead swimmer, the lead swimmer's wake (i.e. spreading the bow wave) has moved laterally, so the drafting swimmer can take maximum advantage of the bow wave. That is, the drafting swimmer has reached the center of the complete wave created by the lead swimmer. Basically, the drafting swimmer is surfing a bow wave.
2. The most efficient drafting is achieved if you cruise at the same speed in the wake of the lead swimmer off to the side - but away from the eddies caused by their kick.
3. In the middle of a race, when the kick of most swimmers is less than the end of the race when they're sprinting, the optimal draft position is slightly different. At the end of the race when the kick increases, swimmers create swirls by their kick. The more swirls, the more drag. So if your opponent's kick increases, move up higher along side their body to utilize their bow wave, but far enough away from the eddies and swirls caused by their kick.
4. If you swim along side the lead swimmer, you do not have to lift your head so often to navigate. This saves energy that can be utilized at the end of the race. If you swim directly behind the lead swimmer, you must often lift your head to confirm your direction and position.
5. Even if the water is clear and you can easily see the lead swimmer under the surface of the water, your head is in a sub-optimal position. The most optimal head position is when you are looking straight down. This creates a more streamlined and efficient body position, saving you energy and creating less drag.
There are a number of other factors that come into play when drafting and positioning but these basic factors are enough to get started.
I have always felt that dry land training makes us better athletes as well as decreasing the tedium of tri training. There are many ways to accomplish this from reading the Triathletes Training Bible, talking to a swim coach or strength & conditioning trainer, or in this case Youtube. I picked this video for it's simplicity and sincerity but you're welcome to look for others.
Image #1 AAOS
Thanks to Steve Munatones