Swimming in triathlon is often the discipline that athletes least enjoy or focus on particularly in the off season. It’s the discipline that we often think is the hardest to improve, so we just make do with just having time in the water staying at the same effort for similar lengths of time and hope to improve. Thinking that if we focus on the bike and run, we can simply make up the time and progress on these instead.

I would like to offer a different perspective on the discipline and outline some key points in order to progress and improve your swimming no end. The other benefit to swim training for triathletes is that you benefit of aspects of strength/cardiovascular training in both aerobic and higher intensity


TIP 1 – Training with purpose

Let’s get focused on the purpose of the session. Let’s avoid mindless swimming at one speed doing lengths and lengths and not improving. By making a purpose and knowing what you are looking to achieve in the session you significantly enjoy the session more and start to see really progression. The session could be based on strength, threshold, open water or technique. But by knowing what its about can really help you discover a new meaning to your training, following this and monitoring progress is key.


TIP 2 – Use your swim toys or tolls

The swim toys for the pool and open water have been designed for a certain reason for example paddles are there to feel for hand entry, feel of pull phase and focus on strength in the water, the swim snorkel is so you can focus on the underwater phase of the pull stroke letting your concentrate on arm position without having to turn to breathe as much. These toys/tools often enhance your feel in the water and lead to more strength and form


TIP 3 – Mix the intensity

In training if we train at one speed, guess what the likelihood of you progressing is low, you may even find you start to get slower as you start to get lazy and bored of the discipline. By working different intensities, you will be helping to develop your form in the water as can start to feel the difference of the different stages and when you not as smooth. Taking different recovery times after different intensities, e.g. smooth swimming = low recovery time, threshold swim = more recovery time before next interval.Keep it interesting to keep it motivating!


TIP 4 – Try not to over think!

Swimming is both technique and force driven, by always working on the technique side of things you aren’t developing the force/strength that will help you to progress. Swimming is a rhythm sport that’s requires a forceful pull,  the key to the stroke is getting the hand into the water and ‘grabbing the water’ to force the water backwards. Imagine that you are entering the water then pushing your hand over a swiss ball and then accelerating the arm/hand back towards the hip.


Training with ITRI coaching

We will be looking to use a mix of intensities/strength based and progressive sessions in order to help you enjoy and see progression, each session with have a purpose to it and clear goals to complete them. Here are the toys/tools that we will look to be using in the sessions, don’t worry if you haven’t got them all, maybe treat yourself to new kit or buy a new piece each month. Also check with your local pool that you can of course use them in there before any money commitment

Good luck and enjoy the training!

Leave a comment