What Is The Best Way To Draft Whilst Swimming?

– There’s a huge advantage to
drafting off another swimmer. But what is better,
drafting on their hips, or drafting on their feet? (electronic music) There are two trains of
thought with drafting, either drafting to make it easier or drafting to improve your swim time. If you just want to get around the swim and jump onto your bike feeling fresh then try drafting off a swimmer
of a similar pace to you. – However if you’re looking
to improve your time or beat your competition
then you should be looking to draught off someone
slightly quicker than you. You’ll still have to work hard, but they should be pulling you along at a slightly quicker pace. Essentially it’s free speed. You’re swimming faster
for the same effort. (electronic music) – Drafting on the hips is often
unavoidable in a mass start so it’s worth learning
how to do it properly. When done well you should feel like you’re surfing the wake of their hips. However, this can sometimes cause issues for the swimmer that you’re drafting. The occasional knock or tangle of the arms can be off putting, but most noticeably it’s
a drag that they’ll feel. It’s said that the drag
is caused by the drafter disturbing the water around the draftee, but we’re a little out of our league with the science on that one. – To get an effective draught on the hips you should position
yourself so that your head is inline with the other swimmer’s hips. You want to get yourself
as close as possible but avoid swimming over the top of them, otherwise you are just
gonna slow both of you down. Around a foot away should do it. If you find yourself drifting
off pace or off their hips, try and get yourself
straight onto their feet rather than letting them completely go. (electronic music) When you watch the ITU and pro races you often see a lead swimmer sat on the front setting the pace whilst the others follow on their feet. Whilst it’s not as easy
as drafting on the hips you can help the overall pace of the swim because it’s not slowing
the lead swimmer down. To draft on feet, you should be swimming as close
to their toes as possible. However, make sure you’re
not tapping their feet on every stroke, otherwise you may end up with
an enemy running into T1. (electronic music) You’ll find that it is a little bit easier to get drop drafting from here so you should keep
concentrating on their feet to make sure that they don’t drift away. If a gap does open up at all just accelerate for a few
strokes to get yourself back on, and trust me, it is
worth it in the long run. There you go. That’s a little insight into drafting, and the difference
between drafting on hips versus drafting on feet. Let us know how you get
on in the comments below. To see more videos like this subscribe to GTN by clicking on the globe. To see our full swim workouts
video just click above. To see our nine open water
swim tips for beginners just click below.

Comments 20

  • is it okaii for a tt bike to draft another tt bike

  • I had my best 500m pool swim time yesterday in my race. Drafting for the win!

  • Drafting during the swim seems unavoidable with a mass start. But I believe it should be avoided and this would make a rolling start better. Why? Because an athlete's effort during a triathlon is supposed to be solo. That's why drafting is usually not allowed during cycling — it's intended to be like an individual time trial (and is partly why aerobars are allowed). The purpose is to see how fast each athlete can complete the triathlon based on their effort alone. Drafting during the swim goes against this principle and is cheating — especially when you're robbing speed from the swimmer you're drafting.

  • How much difference does swim drafting really make? Is it worth even worrying about it or is it better for an amateur to just swim as normal and not have another thing to worry about?

  • Audio jumping up at the VO at the end 😒 but over all loving the channel makes me want to get back into triathlons (have one ever done one years ago)

  • I know this is a triathlon channel but what if you're say swimming in a lake with friends what's the best method for everyone hip or feet drafting?

  • i like this channel and get a lot of useful insightful information from it. in fact i have decided to start swimming in a few weeks after my local pool has completed refurbishment.

    heather, you look as though you have caught the sun a bit. please be careful

  • On the topic of swimming style for triathlon. I don't normally kick during the swim in competition except for surges and overtaking. I practice with and without kicking in the pool. Is there a proper way to kick for triathlon, such as from the hip or from the knee to conserve legs for the transition, or the bike etc? #askgtn

  • Am always the guy who has ppl on his feet. I like making the swim as fast as I can be. My best is 22:51 for 70.3 1.9km

  • my favourite draft is on the feet. thanks for the great information!!!

  • Something i never thought about. When to draft at which spot. Great video guys keep it up

  • when can we expect a gtn does science for drafting?

  • For me, it can take off about 5''/100m.
    I really don't know if it's the same swimming @ 1'/100m as for 2'/100m. But for me, averaging 1:25/100m on a long, easy, set (>1k), that's how much faster I can swim if I draft off a faster swimmer – 1:20/100m.
    It can help you reach T1 with more energy and also, in practice, helps you get faster. Shure if you swim alone afterwards you won't gain the 5''/100, but if you keep it up a couple of times, you may find yourself 2 or 3'' faster the next time you swim without drafting.
    This defenitelly is a tool to master.

  • Come on Heather and Mark, I was hoping for science here. GCN did that and found out that in a proper draft a rider could save around 30% energy, have a look https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bQWrSbyehQ just to tease you lol.

  • So which gives you the best advantage, hips or feet?

  • For races with self-seeding swims should we start with a group ahead our preferred pace in hopes of staying with them/catching the fast people behind you or a group behind and hope to catch their fastest people

  • Very few scientific studies have analysed drafting in swimming, and the results are not easily applicable to real world scenario. One such is "Analysis of drafting effects in swimming using computational fluid dynamics" by António José Silva et. al., Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2008) 7, 60-66.

    The drafting in swimming is fundamentally different than drafting in cycling or running:

    Fundamental physics, Newton's third law, dictates that any force is paired with an equivalent opposite directed force.

    In cycling (and running) the cyclist is propelled forward by pushing backward the the entire planet, the planet is huge and doesn't really move much. The cyclist has to combat the air resistance. It is fairly easy to do windtunnel tests to study the effects of drafting in this situation.

    In swimming however, the swimmer is propelled forward by pushing backward the surrounding body of water, and at the same time overcoming the resistance by the water. This means that a draftee behind will actually be swimming in turbulent waters, some places with an upstream effect and other places with a positive draft effect. But all places, the turbulence makes it difficult to get an effective pull.

    Thus a positive drafting effect is at least partially, cancelled because of the opposing current in the fluid medium and the resulting ineffective pull.

    The cited paper does not take these aspects into account, it looks at drafting just as if it was cycling. On top of that, the paper actually looks at a swimmer submerged 2,5m in the water, a place we rarely like to be. Drag effects are very different at the breaking of the surface compared to submerged in the fluid.

    I have yet to find a scientific study that take these aspects into account.

    Some hints to the answer though: In airports at takeoff certain spacing is needed between aircrafts as the following aircraft will otherwise not get enough lift for takeoff. And, migratory birds don't draft behind each other but fly in a V formation. This suggest that drafting, at least on the feet of a swimmer, will not save any energy, it may even cost energy.

    So, when people talk about drafting in swimming, I think it's really about pacing. Being paced by somebody is a really effective way to maintain a strong performance. And this may be the real reason people report faster swims when "drafting".

  • I'd like to see a video for rookies focusing on swimming in a group.

  • Have you guys done a video on proper breathing on swimming?

  • Why is feet drafting slightly to the side better (faster/easier) than drafting directly behind feet?

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