Third part of our blog series on the swimming drills involving the Tri Medley.

Why don’t you use backstroke as part of the triathlon medley?

In normal medley swimming we move from butterfly into backstroke. However when training triathletes, who are freestyle specific swimmers, I’ve long dropped the backstroke out of the medley all together. We allow athletes to use backstroke in the warm down should they wish.

I believe there is very little skill acquisition that a triathlete (freestyle swimmers) can learn from backstroke itself other than to release the freestyle muscles from tension and fatigue.

Those who are not from a swim background and want to use it in warm down, we actually encourage to pull on the lane rope each stroke. This way one can get the feel for the acceleration in an arm-stroke, which is the best skill backstroke can pass on to us.

It is also a safety issue, as keeping multiple swimmers to the correct side of a lane in an age group squad is most difficult. Head on collisions are not uncommon when watching a team trying to perform backstroke within a group.

It’s also a safety issue that brings us to the breaststroke drill we use instead of backstroke.

Explanation of the breaststroke drill that is used during the triathlon medley.

At Trisutto.com we do not do the usual breaststroke kick when we perform this stroke. Why?

In elite swimming the main injury is not shoulder impingement as most non-swimmers would think. Shoulder injuries rank around third. The biggest two swim injuries belong to the breaststroke: Knee strain being the number one injury followed by groin strains. As any old swimmer will tell you these two are endemic in proportion.

So we at Trisutto.com don’t use the normal breaststroke kick, but rather butterfly motion kicks to every one stroke and every one breath. We want the kick to be a relaxation while developing the inward acceleration of the skilling motion.

Breaststroke provides us with the perfect opportunity to self monitor the acceleration of a stroke. Thus we gain the benefits of what we can be taught for freestyle by breaststroke, while minimising the risk of injury.

We also have the advantage of using the stroke as a strength builder, it takes plenty of strength to develop the power to bring the head out of the water for the breath.

Conclusion: The second lap of the Tri Medley is a modified breaststroke. It’s is used to develop acceleration and to a lesser extent strength for the development of your freestyle. 

Age group athletes swimming the triathlon medley next to the pros: The 3/2/2 drill down followed by the breaststroke drill on the way back.

Part 4: The 3/3 Drill

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