After a strength-based training block, this and the next two months will be largely dedicated to whipping my swim into shape, starting with a few substantive technique improvements that will pay huge dividends in open water. Last week my coach got out the camera to evaluate where we're at.
In general, underwater video analysis should be an essential tool in any triathlete's arsenal – even if just once a year. Most people who didn't grow up swimming have a very hard time visualizing what their limbs are doing when they swim, so it can help spot common issues such as crossing your hand way over to the opposite side to pull, or hand entry/catch problems that set you up for a weaker pull.
In my case, I found I am gliding far more than I realized (see first picture above), doing too much of what most swimmers call a "catch-up drill". While this might not hurt me if I had the build of Michael Phelps and competed exclusively in pools, for a guy 4" shorter competing in open water, it's not so great. A higher stroke rate can help to keep momentum in rough water and to change pace quickly, if needed, to navigate packs and buoys. Quickening my stroke (and setting up for a better catch as a result) is therefore my top priority for the training block ahead.
The best example of a stellar high stroke rate is of Jodie Swallow, in a video by SwimSmooth that my coach sent me. Check it out and see if you can match Jodie's cadence and rhythm!