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Use This Trick to Swim Faster With Less Effort

Raising your stroke rate, why you need to take creatine, and three ways to boost FTP

Good morning everyone,

I’m currently in Yokohama, Japan ahead of my wife’s Olympic trials race on Saturday. So far, the vibes have been high, and the ramen has been exceptional.

On the transfer from the airport to the hotel we actually drove past the Tokyo Olympic race course and I was reminded how, not that long ago, I was leading the pack along those roads on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

It brought back mixed memories from my Olympic experience. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I was as fit as I could have been and wasn’t able to have the race I was hoping for.

But at the end of the day, I was able to compete, represent my country, and get my Olympic experience, which in the middle of a global pandemic could easily have been called off.

In today’s edition: 

  • 🏋️‍♀️ Why women (and men) need to take creatine.

  • Three ways to boost your FTP - and cycling performance!

  • 🏊‍♀️ And how this one swimming hack can help you swim faster AND with less effort!

Thanks for being here,

-Matt Sharpe, newsletter editor

Headshot of Matt Sharpe

Have a triathlete in your life who can't stop swimming, biking, or running? Fire this off to them. Forwarded from a friend? Sign-up for free. 


🏋️‍♀️ Creatine scene: Creatine monohydrate is one of the most effective supplements for improving high-intensity training and promoting lean body mass. And for women, who typically have lower levels of it, it can be a gamechanger. Along with an improvement in exercise performance, here’s a few reasons why women (and men) should take it. [Yahoo]

🏆 Train and race your best - with Exakt health: Don’t let a difficult injury get in the way of your best-ever season. Exakt Health has physio-certified injury prevention plans to ensure you crush your A race! And if you are dealing with an injury like shin splints or Achilles tendinopathy, Exakt Health has your back with world-class injury recovery programs. Check out the Exakt Health app and save 40% with code “TEMPO.”*

⚡ Boost your cycling: FTP (functional threshold power) is an effective way of measuring your training zones and tracking improvement in cycling over time. But have you been struggling to improve this key metric? This video shows three ways to boost your FTP, and understand why it might not be improving! [GTN]

😍 Find the perfect shoe: Finding the perfect-fitting pair of run shoes can bring your training to a whole new level of comfort and performance. Here’s six key criteria for picking your next best pair of shoes! [Six Minute Mile]

🍝 Leftover win: Evidence is emerging that suggests cooling starchy foods can improve their effect on our gut health. So is it healthier to eat pasta and rice as leftovers? Potentially! [New York Times]

*sponsored content


Struggling With Your Swim? It Might be Time to Raise Your Stroke Rate!

Adobe Stock

What is stroke rate? Your stroke rate is a measurement of how many strokes you take in a given period - typically one minute - which equals Strokes Per Minute (SPM).

  • But most athletes train in a pool, so it’s much easier to measure your strokes per length to determine stroke rate. 

  • Higher strokes per length = A higher stroke rate. Lower strokes per length = A lower rating.

Re-education: Many athletes and coaches who grew up in a traditional swim club background would have been ingrained in the importance of having a lower stroke count. 

In the traditional swimming world, a low stroke rate and high distance per stroke (DPS) are lauded as a way to swim more efficiently and reduce drag. 

And while it makes sense for Michael Phelps to glide effortlessly on top of the water in very few strokes, it’s the opposite of what triathletes need.

  • Remember - Phelps’ races were anywhere from 1 - 4 minutes. Triathlons are a lot longer and open water-specific!

We don’t race like Phelps, so why should we train like him? 

Muscular and aerobic demands: Swimming with a lower stroke rate requires serious muscular demands, and a greater muscular force for each stroke which means a lot more muscle fibers must be recruited - usually leading to more fatigue and an earlier breakdown of the stroke!

  • At a lower stroke rate, fatigue also comes quicker due to the increased anaerobic (no oxygen) metabolism of energy. metabolic byproducts like lactate, which will make you fatigue a lot quicker!

A higher stroke rate will have you swimming more efficiently in the open water, and in a much better place to tackle the bike and run!

So how do you increase your stroke rate? Here’s three ways 👇

🔄 Rotate less - Rotating is critical to swimming effectively. But rotating too much puts your shoulder in a position where it has to pull a lot of water. 

  • By swimming a bit “flatter” in the water (not as exaggerated as this) you may sacrifice a bit of glide. But with more strokes you will most likely have more opportunity to propel yourself forward!

📈 Increase your turnover - Pretty obvious, take more strokes. But there are diminishing returns to skyrocketing your stroke rate. Tools like a tempo trainer can help you learn to develop a higher stroke rate. 

  • And a huge benefit to taking more strokes? More opportunities to breathe and get oxygen in! 

🏊‍♀️ Catch quicker - You might have been taught to extend your arm and glide once your hand enters the water. This does help reduce drag and creates a long lever with which to generate power.

  • But reaching out too far after entering can be destabilizing and result in a dysfunctional catch. 

Better to start your catch a bit earlier once your hand enters the water.

Watch: These videos show one of the best open water catches we’ve seen. She has a seamless transition from entering the water to the beginning of her catch.

Want to swim faster and with less effort? Join the waitlist and save big on our forthcoming swim analysis service!


Brilliant strategy to train AND keep your significant other happy! 😆

A Koala crossing mid-race? Only in Australia! 🐨


IRONMAN Australia

Women’s race: Regan Hollioake (AUS) made it an Aussie double as she used a dominating run to take her first IRONMAN win.

Men’s race: Sam Appleton (AUS) was the hometown hero taking a very impressive (almost) wire-to-wire win. His first full-distance IRONMAN win.

IRONMAN 70.3 St. George

Women’s race: Paula Findlay (CAN) laid waste to the field on the bike and didn’t look back as she broke the tape in St. George by almost 3 minutes.

Men’s race: The St. George theme was a powerful bike and Sam Long also rode away from his competitors taking a comfortable win. His second of the year.


IRONMAN investment: The recent IRONMAN event in Port Macquarie, Australia was found to have injected over $9 million into the local economy. [NBN News]

PTO AOTM: After posting a blistering 2:34 marathon that saw him take the IRONMAN North American Championships, Tomas Rodriguez (MEX) has been named April’s PTO Athlete of the Month. [PTO]

Super mom: Kamilla Whitney is a businesswoman, a mom, and is training to compete at the upcoming Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon! [Post and Courier]

Cherry Blossom success: Kelowna’s Cherry Blossom Triathlon celebrated its 10th anniversary with the biggest event they’ve ever had. [Kelowna Now]


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