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Wall Work Focus

There are no walls in open water swimming. So why is wall work important for triathletes and open water swimmers? If you make a sloppy turn at every wall, you begin every length with sloppy swimming - you have to make adjustments to your posture, aquatic line and balance as you start moving down the pool. On the other hand, if you come off every wall with authority and then snap to a perfect streamline, you will be starting every length of swimming with good swimming posture. It's easiest to attain good posture when you are not moving your arms or legs. Streamlining from the wall you glide for a few seconds and this gives you the perfect opportunity to start every length of swimming with perfect posture, line and balance.

This week we will work on streamlining and open turns. We will focus on flip turns another week. When you practice, the type of turn you use doesn't matter much. What does matter is that you perform the turn correctly, so that you come off the wall in perfect streamlined position. An open turn makes more sense for most triathletes - you get an extra breath at the wall, it gives you a little more time to get focused, and for most people it provides a better push-off and longer glide. If you usually do flip turns, switch to open turns for this week.

Do not use an underwater dolphin kick coming out of the streamline, unless I or some other coach has told you that you are performing it correctly. A poorly executed underwater dolphin kick will just slow you down. (If you do not know what the underwater dolphin kick is, do not worry about it.)

Technique Focus Points

  • Approaching the Wall. Swim to the wall. Do not glide or drift into the wall.
  • Open Turn: One-hand touch, leave the other hand at your side, tight tuck, lift your head only enough for a breath, spin onto your side and plant your feet at shoulder width, sink below the surface, streamline before pushing off.
  • Streamline and check your posture: As you glide away from the wall check your posture: neck tall with head neutral on the spine, suck your belly in to flatten your lumbar spine.
  • Pullout stroke: Quick stroke with the arm that is deeper in the water as you snap to the other side and begin swimming freestyle.

What to Watch For

  • Slowing down on the approach. Do not glide into the wall. Swim into it.
  • Lifting yourself up. You only need to touch and push off the wall with your leading hand. Do not use the wall to lift yourself up - that wastes time.
  • Eyes forward. In the streamline, do not break your aquatic line by lifting your head.
  • Dangling legs. Do not allow your legs to sink deep into the water at the turn.

Wall Work Focus Workouts

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