It’s Time to Reset Your Attitude About Swimming


It’s Time to Reset Your Attitude About Swimming

When working with triathletes, I often get this question, “If I want to improve my swim splits, it’ll take too much time. Won’t it be smarter for me to spend more time training for the bike and run?”

My answer: Absolutely not!

There are several reasons why I strongly advise my athletes to apply the same dedication to their swimming as they do to triathlon’s other two disciplines. Allow me to review a few in this post.

WARNING: Prepare yourself for some tough love!

Three Disciplines. Have you ever thought, “Let’s get this damn swim over with so I can get onto my bike and start the race?”

This type of self-talk is common among triathletes, and almost guarantees that they won’t perform to their capabilities.

To state the obvious, triathlon is a 3-discipline sport. What’s often overlooked by amateurs is that each leg of the race builds upon the one before it. Get your next triathlon off to a great start by knowing that you’ve done the work and you’re as well-prepared as possible.

Manage your swim -- don’t just survive it -- and you’ll set yourself up for a well-balanced and fast race.

Confidence. Long distance triathlon is a confidence game, and that confidence is built during training. Knowing that you’ve properly prepared and are ready to perform – not just participate – will instill a calm confidence in your pre-race routine.

Swimming is triathlon’s most technical discipline, so you must approach your sessions differently than the bike and run.

Your skills and confidence will improve in leaps and bounds if you commit to multiple shorter workouts per week (I prefer at least 4). These sessions should be intentionally structured with a healthy dose of intervals and drills; don’t just grind out long, slow distance. Seek out instruction or coaching to improve your stroke mechanics.

But, most of all, get into the pool… frequently!

Energy Management. One of your race-day goals should be to preserve energy throughout the day, expending it as efficiently as possible.

Long distance triathlon is a big test and requires excellent management of energy to maximize speed and resist fatigue.

Energy lost during the swim – from poor technique, inadequate training, or anxiety – is lost forever. Conversely a 5% improvement in swim efficiency will reward you with more energy later in the race, when you need it most.

Personal Pride. You’re an athlete; you strive to do your best. It’s empowering to know that you’ve trained as well as possible and are prepared to do your very best.

Take pride in the knowledge that you’ve committed to making incremental improvements in your swimming, day by day.

So get in the pool (preferably today) and reset your attitude about the importance of your swimming. You’ll not only become a more technically proficient swimmer, but all aspects of your triathlon improve.