Ask Coach Sara: What Is The Point Of Longer Sets?

Sara McLarty answers questions about longer swim sets, the streamline off of the wall, chlorine's effect on the skin and more.

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Your Twitter questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach Sara McLarty.

Q: What are your thoughts about getting a good streamline off the wall? Some say that it is cheating because there are no walls in open water. —@symonthesymple

A: Streamlines are not only the fastest way to move through the water but also a great way to become a better swimmer. Good swimming technique is about understanding how your body works, floats, reacts and moves in the water. An underwater streamline is a great way to find your most hydrodynamic body position by squeezing your biceps to your ears and tucking your chin to your chest. See how far you can go across the pool by pushing off the wall in streamline position and not kicking or using your arms. Aim to improve that distance and better understand your body in the water by making slight adjustments to your body position.

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Q: What can I do about the chlorine messing up my skin? —Jeremy Arguelles

A: There are multiple products on the market today that are designed specifically for swimmers in chlorine pools. Some examples: DermaSwim is a pre-swimming lotion that helps block the chlorine from drying out your skin and smelling like the pool afterward. TriSwim has lotion, body wash and hair products that neutralize and remove the chlorine odor and chemicals from your skin. Swim Spray is a vitamin C mixture that neutralizes chlorine on your body, hair and swimsuit.

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Q: How do I transform a strong breaststroke kick into a strong freestyle kick? —@MayorBrown

A: Freestyle kick takes practice, practice, practice. There is no secret to getting better and stronger. Time and repetition is the only way to build muscle memory and core/hip/leg strength. Remember these three tips when kicking: (1) The kick originates at your hips using hip flexors and core strength. (2) Do not lock your knees or ankles; let them flow with the movement of your legs. (3) Focus on a short and quick kick that makes a splash at the surface of the water.

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Q: What is the point of training sets that are longer than the actual race distance? —Elizabeth Crepeau

A: Training longer than your race distance builds your aerobic threshold capacity. It helps increase your endurance so you can maintain a higher effort for a longer time. Think of the swim workout as more than just training for the swim leg; you are also completing a training session that is closer to your total race distance.

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Pro triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty has 25-plus years of experience and knowledge about swimming mechanics, efficiency and technique.

Got a swimming question? Coach Sara wants to help. Just tweet your queries to @SaraLMcLarty

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