For many, swimming is a very difficult part of triathlon.  The best way to improve your swimming is to consistently work on technique and do challenging workouts.  Without a history of swimming, it may be unclear where to start.  Don’t worry! A world of help is available for you.   Here are 5 ways to swim faster and feel more comfortable in the water.

  • Join a Masters’ Swim Program – Masters’ Swim Programs are adult swim teams.  They offer swim coaching and challenging workouts.  At a typical Masters’ practice, a coach will address ways to improve your swim stroke, lead you through technique-improving drills, and give you challenging workout sets.  For new swimmers, it may seem like a lot to process. However, the benefits of learning proper swim technique will make you much faster and more comfortable on race day.
  • Watch Swim Videos on YouTube – YouTube has a large collection of videos on swimming technique.  Start with videos explaining the constituent parts of the free style stroke (catch, pull, follow through, recover, etc.).  Move on to videos identifying common challenges that beginners face.  After identifying a few issues to work on, watch videos that address your particular issues.  During each swim workout, set aside some time for practicing what you learned in the videos.  Stick to videos from reputable sources such as US Masters’ Swimming, Tyr, Speedo, etc.
  • Take Private Swim Lessons – If you don’t feel comfortable learning in a group environment such as a Masters’ Program, hire a coach for private lessons.   Ask around your triathlon community for some coaching references.  Because it takes time to implement what you learn, one lesson every two to three weeks is likely all you need.
  • Don’t Ignore the Other Strokes – If your swim workouts involve back stroke, breast stroke, and butterfly, don’t ignore them.  By working on the other stokes, you’ll learn more about controlling your body in the water – leading to better overall comfort in the water.
  • Swim in Open Water BEFORE Race Day – If your race is in the open water, don’t wait until race day to practice in open water.  Find an open water swim venue and simulated your race – e.g., swim the race distance at race pace.  If a triathlon offers a swim clinic at the race site (e.g., a week before the race), do it!!

Leading up to your race, expend as much effort improving your technique as you do improving your fitness.  As your swim technique improves, you’ll find that a race day swim start is much more than a way of moving to your bike rack.