You may decide that after reading several swimming books, practicing drills and workouts in the pool on your own, joining a masters swim team, and even ordering The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming online, that you need a little outside help to get your swim where it needs to be for a tri. You’re normal! Unless you have a little swimming experience under your belt already, it may be difficult to make the improvements you need to make without a coach.
I highly recommend hiring a coach, if you are a beginner or just looking to become a better swimmer.
But not all swim coaches are the same!
Here are some ideas on what to look for if you do decide to hire a coach:
1. They should have experience working with adults and not just kids. Many places have countless swim programs for kids, but neglect the beginning or improving adult swimmer. Often, the instructors these gyms or pools hire have very little experience working with an adult triathlete or pre-triathlete. They know the basics but won’t help you much with a triathlon swim. They will come cheap, but it’s not worth it!
2. Look for some college swimming experience. It doesn’t have to be an All American Division 1 college swimmer, but former college swimmers typically will understand a little more about your needs than someone that did not compete at a high level.
3. Masters coaches are often good private coaches. Since many master’s teams consist of several triathletes, masters coaches often will be able to help you improve for your next race.
4. The coach should be able to adjust between teaching you as a distance swimmer and an age group kid who wants to improve his 100 Free. I’ve seen age group coaches who cannot distinguish stroke needs between his 16 year old sprinters and his 40 year old aspiring triathletes. Look for some experience coaching open water swimmers or at the very least distance swimmers.
5. Price can be an indicator. Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. First of all, there aren’t many good private swim coaches out there! The demand for instruction is always greater than the supply of good coaches. If you are getting instruction from a kid at your local Y where you pay $15/hour for a lesson, you might not be getting what you need. Prices for coaching vary throughout the country and the world, but mostly you will be looking at the range of $40-$100 per lesson. If you find a coach at the top of this range, chances are he or she will be paying very close attention to you and make sure you succeed!
6. Gauge personality. You must have a good relationship with your coach for it to work. Look for patience and someone that is not in a hurry, someone that listens well and will give you feedback and follow-up.
7. Look for a coach on the Tri Swim Coach list. Just click on the link below, and you will find coaches (mostly around the U.S.) that many of which are highly qualified to help you as a triathlete or newbie.