Wettkampf: Der Wasserschatten – Jede Sekunde zählt

From the slipstream to the water shadow - what is usually forbidden on land on the bike course in competitions can bring you some advantages in the water. Because you can also benefit from the water pull of the person in front. triathlon.de analyzes the advantages of water shadow swimming for you in this article.

Physics: As on land, so also in the water

The benefits to be gained from a water shadow are very similar to those of slipstreaming. However, there is a slightly different physical principle behind it. Let's first briefly explain why the water shadow can make you faster.

The basis for development is the medium of water, in which we move when we swim. A swimmer in front of you splits the wall of water in front of them, reducing your resistance from the front. Furthermore, the water flows back together behind the swimmer and creates a kind of suction effect through the water that is already in motion. In short, we are faster thanks to reduced water resistance from the front and the natural movement of the water particles. Enough theory, now for the interesting and useful practice.

The advantages: Faster or more relaxed

The water shadow plays a role that should not be underestimated. Using the slipstream to your advantage while swimming can save energy. Studies show water resistance savings of three to 20 percent in the water, depending on the proximity and angle to the person in front. This can be converted into an energy saving with the same swimming speed in order to be able to go on the bike course a little more rested.

You can also convert the energy savings directly into a faster swim time by consistently "gliding behind" a supposedly faster swimmer. The minimum value of about three percent increase in speed means a time saving of almost two minutes for a long-distance swim of one hour.

Keep going!

The best position in terms of saving water resistance is about 50 centimeters behind the person in front. Other considerations concern the motivational level. Faster out of the water, faster on your bike and faster at the finish usually means a few places further up the list of results.

But watch out, those who swim beyond their potential quickly turn the advantages into a disadvantage and, in the worst case, come out of the water completely exhausted. Another risk is the feet of the person in front for the chin, face and the correct fit of the swimming goggles. You should therefore not swim up too close.

Also interesting

theory and practice

In the same way, it is possible to have to fight against the "bow wave" of the swimmer in front if the positioning is wrong. This reduces the benefit and can also result in gulping more water than usual. On the other hand, if you swim at the feet of the person in front, you save energy and time and can easily orientate yourself with an experienced swimmer ahead.

The two most common positions are either directly behind or to the side of the person in front, with your head between shoulder and hip height of the "tractor". However, it takes some practice to find the optimal position and is certainly no easier in the competitive crowd than in theory or in training. That's why it's worth integrating water shadow swimming into your training and trying out the different positions.


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