I think we should all do butterfly in our triathlon swims. Nothing else. Just fly.
The rules say we must swim the leg. They don’t say how we should do it. Why rely just on freestyle? Too easy. Breaststroke? Come on. Backstroke? Seriously?
I say, it’s fly or nothing. Completing a 2.4 mile long distance swim in nothing but fly should be a piece of cake. If you can’t do it, you shouldn’t even think about doing triathlon. Go learn fly, then you can get in the lake.
It should. There’s no way the vast majority of us would want to do the butterfly for a triathlon race. Many of us aren’t good at the stroke. For others, it would be too exhausing. And while there are people who like to swim fly (take for example Julia Bradshaw, who in 2002 recorded the fastest ever fly-only English Channel crossing in 14:18 — hours, not minutes; or Dan Projansky of Michigan who competes in 10k open water swims doing noting but fly – see here), the vast majority of us just wouldn’t do it.
That’s not the point, though. If you WANTED to swim a triathlon with nothing but fly, you could. The same argument goes for any stroke.
Why do I bring this up? Over the past day or so, I’ve been following a growing thread on Slowtwitch where a poster asked if he should do a triathlon if the only thing he can do is breaststroke. He basically got blasted. Folks told him flatly to go learn to “swim”, to start at the back, to swim outside. They said swimming breaststroke is dangerous for other swimmers. Basically, they implied he was a second class triathlete for not being able to swim freestyle.
Here’s the deal as far as I’m concerned. Not everyone is a fast swimmer. Not everyone can swim freestyle well. Hell, lots of folks probably can swim equally as fast (if not faster) doing breaststroke versus any other stroke. Most everyone has done some breaststroke in a race. It’s not a bad thing. Folks who swim it shouldn’t be banned.
As for the argument that it’s dangerous to swimmers, I’m not sure it’s any more dangerous than dealing with freestyle kicks and punches from other swimmers. I should know – when I swam at Ironman Florida I took five or six punches to the kidneys from a guy who would not find open water. It hurt like hell, and nearly knocked me out of any rhythm I had. How did I get rid of him? A couple of well-timed breaststroke kicks.
We should be inclusive. For 99% of us, triathlon is just about “doing it”. If you can only do breaststroke, do it. If you want to do fly, go for it. If you are great at freestyle, so be it.
Just keep swimming.