Sara McLarty—Swimming all-star and Triathlete contributor Sara McLarty addresses four common triathlon-related swimming myths.
Bilateral breathing means inhaling during every third stroke.
BUSTED! Many swimmers need to breathe more often, especially when swimming hard. Bilateral breathing merely refers to breathing on both sides to create a balanced and efficient stroke technique. Try breathing to the right for three breaths, then the left for the next three breaths. Create your own pattern based on your breathing needs.
You should control the hand entry to prevent splash and bubbles underwater.
BUSTED! The goal of the recovery phase is to return the arm to the water as quickly as possible. Slowing the arm before entering the water merely impairs streamline and increases drag. Try swimming with a quick and relaxed recovery. Listen for a “plopping” sound as the arm drops into the water.
I don’t need to hydrate during swim practice because I’m not sweating.
BUSTED! You might not see it, but you are definitely perspiring in the pool. A warm pool or a hard workout can increase your sweat rate just like land-based sports. Always take a water bottle with an electrolyte drink mix to swim practice and drink at regular intervals during the sets.
Triathletes do not need to learn how to kick.
BUSTED! Swimming efficiently requires the entire body to work together. While a small amount of forward propulsion can be gained by kicking hard, a light and relaxed kick will help with balance and core strength. Using the lower body correctly can increase power during the arm pull.