Drafting techniques that will help save you time and effort in a race

Drafting techniques that will help save you time and effort in a race and how to develop your open water kung fu!!

Here is a really good article and video by the Global Triathlon Network and Training Peaks on Drafting by Mark Threlfall and Heather Fell at Bath University, looking at the science of drafting on the feet and hips, and tracking the differences in pace and heart rate of each.

How much effort would you estimate you could save swimming in open water by drafting efficiently and effectively? You could save up to 70 seconds over 1500m, or 3 minutes over 3.8km!

By swimming in someone’s wake who is slightly faster than you, you’ll save quite a bit of your energy in open water, enabling you to swim faster than you would normally. Practising swimming in close proximity to others will ensure you get used to this feeling.

Did you know that you can save up to 25% energy by drafting correctly?

By swimming in the bow wave of the swimmer in front you're saving yourself some valuable energy and can actually catapult your performance above your normal range if you find someone who is just a bit faster than you to draft off.

There are 2 methods of drafting:

1. The first one is where you position yourself about 12 inches behind the swimmers feet. This can be the trickier method of the 2, as you can't sight that effectively, particularly if the swimmer lifts their head up when you sight, or is splashing a lot. You also want to be aware that swimmers can suddenly stop to check for position, or do breast stroke, or swerve off course. Their navigation and sighting may not be optimal either. Following a stream of bubbles can be hard if they don't swim straight. Be careful you don't get kicked in the face or have your goggles knocked off. To avoid this keep one hand in front of your head

2. The 2nd method is by swimming close to the lead swimmers hip. Make sure you keep sighting in each position. Don’t necessarily trust that the swimmer you’re drafting is navigating perfectly. You'll be able to sight much better than in method one as you have an uninterrupted view forwards. Your hand should finish the glide phase at their hip. Make sure you breathe in towards the swimmer. Stay as close as you can without affecting the swimmers path. You can practice this method in the pool or simply next time you swim in an open water lake.

Drafting in currents: If there is a current pulling you away from the first buoy, try angling yourself into the current more. So if the current pulls you to the right, swim more over to the left about 30 degrees, so you’ll then be drifting in an arc to the right spot to turn next to the buoy.

Drafting in open water swimming is crucial to a good performance in triathlon.

Drafting in open water can be beneficial to save energy and increase speed if done well. You have to build your confidence at being able to swim close to others in the water. Find out the best ways to practice drafting for open water swimming.

Have you got a late season triathlon or open water swim coming up and need help to improve your open water skills?

Did you know that you can save lots of time and energy from learning the correct methods of open water skills and drills in the pool?

If you need help, why not book some front crawl 1-2-1 lessons with Speedy Swimming at Guildford Lido.

For example we can help you with:

• Sighting - do you swim in a straight line? • Navigation - do you waster time and energy from not sighting regularly enough? some swimmers swim 10-20% too far! • Drafting - learn and practice the 2 methods above with a qualified coach. We'll help you to achieve between 18-25% savings in energy • Mass starts - position yourself for maximum effectiveness • Turning around buoys - maintain your momentum and position

Sign up below asap and find out!


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