The Kona Edge recently held an online Swim Seminar with Richard Murray. On this excerpt of that seminar Richard shares 3 things he thinks age group triathletes can focus on to improve their swim, the tools he uses in the water to swim better and drafting tips to get the most benefit when swimming in an open water swim or triathlon.


BRAD BROWN:  Richard, Kerry wants to know, she’s saying obviously different coaches emphasize different things in the swim, she’s trying to figure out the top three things to focus on. Obviously consistency and time in the pool, she’s assuming would be one of them, what else would you say? What are the top three things you would recommend age groupers, from various abilities, what would the top three things be that they should focus on in the pool?

RICHARD MURRAY:  Okay, the top three things. I think hand entry is a really important one, not just for injury prevention, but obviously for the efficiency of your stroke. Trying to keep your hands, imagine if you’re in the diving position and you literally have the hands right above your head, not crossing the middle of your head, that position is how you want your hands to enter when you start the front part of your stroke. If you can try and find someone, a coach or something, and you can join those guys and ask someone to take a look at your hand entry, those things, to make sure that that’s straight, that would be the first get and would be a great way of improving your swimming.

Then obviously for people who don’t have coaches and that are trying to improve their swimming themselves, I can vouch for it, you need to have people there. There’s got to be someone there watching it, seeing what you’re doing and telling you that you need to change certain things because even the top, best swimmers in the world have things that they can improve on and they believe they can improve on as well. I think that’s another big one. I think the back end of your stroke, a lot of people don’t realize that the back end is pretty much where most of your power comes from, the stroke. The front end, you can lose efficiency, but if you’re not pushing all the way through at the back end of your stroke, you’re losing all of that power, so it’s like having a massive engine and only using 10% of your revs. You want to be able to use all of them and push it all the way through to the back.

The first one would be hand entry being wide, taking a look at finding a coach, someone that can assist you and obviously the back end, the pushing through of your stroke.

Tools to use in the water to improve your swim

BRAD BROWN:  Awesome stuff, another question in from Kerry, she wanted to know, what tools would you recommend, like pool buoys, paddles, fins, etc, what do you use and what do you recommend age groupers use to get better in the water?

RICHARD MURRAY:  I was just about to say I’m a great fan of toys, but that would sound a little bit ambiguous, so there’s definitely, I’m a big fan of the pool buoy, also depending on the day. If the legs are pretty broken and I’m battling to get through my swim session, I’ll put the pool buoy in to save the legs a tiny bit. That’s pretty good to do, you can do a bit of the strength based shoulder session, you put that pool buoy in. Also some paddles, I’ve got a nice set of those Finis paddles which you literally just stick your thumb through and it forces you to keep the water, the pressure downwards, because if you don’t keep the pressure downwards, it actually slides off your hand which helps keeping the water moving in the correct direction. You want the water to go behind you. A lot of people are pushing down with the front of their hands. If you enter your hand, your hand needs to point backwards as soon as you can, to get the water moving in that general direction. Obviously with the breathing, that’s a thing, you end up pushing down to get your head up, so when your hand wants to enter, you automatically want to get your hand into a position where it’s facing, pointing backwards and then you want to actually move all that water directly straight behind you.

Drafting Techniques: Get the most benefit in the water

BRAD BROWN:  Obviously that’s the resistance, it makes you stronger and just benefits at the end of the day,  makes you quicker in the water. Cool question in from Kerry and this is obviously something that’s pretty important at the front end of the field where you race, but for the guys and girls who do the Ironman races where drafting is not allowed on the bike, you need to try and get as much benefit as you can in the water, Kerry wanted to know, have you got any particular tricks or techniques for drafting in open water? How do you go about it, what would you suggest people do in order to get the maximum benefit from drafting in the water?

RICHARD MURRAY:  I think that’s an interesting one that took me a couple of years to get right. I’m still working on trying to figure out how the guys tactics are because in our racing, the better the swimmer, the more they realize how to actually move or to try and to get you out of their draft so that you don’t get that benefit sometimes, but it’s definitely, to be able to swim as close as you can on someone’s hip. Imagine your shoulder can be pretty close to someone’s ankles while they’re swimming, that type of point is where you want to be. Their hand literally pushes through and your hand almost enters where their hand exits, just slightly behind that, say on the left. I prefer to be to the left of someone because I can actually sight and see them while I’m swimming next to them and that helps a little bit by judging how close I am to them cause I breathe to the right while I’m swimming as hard as I can, that helps with then being on the left hand side, on that persons hip. They say a lot of people, it took me quite a while to realize the amount of energy you can save being in that sweet spot and even if they need to go into the red to actually get to that point, it’s worth doing that to get there.


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