Swimming Program for Triathlon – Issue #86

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Swimming Program for Triathlon

Dear Friend,

Overwhelmingly, when I talk to triathletes and aspiring triathletes, I hear a similar theme when it comes to their view on swimming. It usually goes something like this:

“I could to a triathlon, if it weren’t for the swim!”


“My training is going well- except for my swimming- I’m just not getting any better!”


“I love doing triathlons, but I hate the swimming part!”

If you’ve thought or said anything like the quotes above, the first thing you need to do is change your attitude!

Admittedly, swimming is the most difficult part of triathlon in terms of technique and learning curve. It takes a lot of practice and drill work to get from beginner to competent open water swimmer.

Most triathletes just want to work out hard and see the results in their race. Swimming starts to be looked at as a thorn in their side because it is much more complicated than just putting out more effort or adding distance.

In order to succeed in swimming, and to fully enjoy the sport of triathlon, you must let go of these negative thoughts! There is no room for holding on to the beliefs that will hold you back.

If you continually say that you “hate” swimming, you will dread going to the pool, and you will show up to your race with all kinds of uncertainty- and your chances of success will be slim!

On the other hand, if you can train yourself to actually enjoy the swim, success will be yours!

Try these tips to turn yourself around and get the most out of your triathlon:

1. If you’re using the word “hate” around swimming, drop it! Hate is a powerful word, and the more you say it, the more your brain will prevent you from being successful in the water, and it will make it pretty tough to ever enjoy the process!

2. It’s not a destination! It’s a journey! Yes, it’s a cheesy, sometimes overused expression. But keep it in mind with swimming. You will grow as an athlete and as a person while you spend time doing your drills and improving your stroke.

3. Set reasonable goals and reward yourself. Don’t think that because your race requires you to swim 1 kilometer, you have to do that distance on your first workout. Instead, set attainable goals for each swim workout (or each week of your training). The first few weeks it may be just working on one drill until it feels comfortable. Later, you may need to add 100 yards to each workout. Make sure that you recognize your accomplishments, even the ones that seems small!

4. Realize that you are not a “bad swimmer”. Nor do you “suck at swimming”. You are a good swimmer that just has not realized your potential yet! Do all the right things and in time, you will see massive improvements.

The physical part of training is easy. This is why many triathletes get tripped up in the swim- it goes far beyond cranking out hard workouts to improve.

Improve your mental outlook and the way you look at the swim, and you will be amazed at the progress you make- and the FUN you will have along the way!


“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”
– Thomas Edison

Tip of the Month- Bend Your Elbows

For beginning or intermediate-level swimmers that are learning hip rotation, it is important to bend your elbows on the arm recovery in freestyle. A few great swimmers have perfected the straight-arm recovery, but if you who did not come from a swimming background, you will be better off bending your elbow throughout the arm recovery. If you have the Complete Guide, log in and view any of the over water videos. Otherwise, just look at the Tri Swim Coach logo to see what your arm should be doing out of the water!