How To Train For The Swim Stage Of A Triathlon

Triathlons are the Holy Grail for any die-hard athlete. From those who excel at cycling to those who love competing in water, it’s the perfect test of endurance and athleticism. If you’re someone who has been training for years and who wants to take your fitness lifestyle to another level, a triathlon is a great option for you.

Granted, it’s not the easiest race to train for. Not only do you have to excel at cycling and running but swimming is also something that will require your best, if you want to win. If you have never trained for a swimming competition before, much less one that is a part of an already demanding race, you’ll want to make sure that you train the right way.

Do you want to know what it entails and how to be one of the best in the triathlon? Essentially, if you can master the swim stage, then you’ll be a bid step ahead of most other athletes. From my experience in racing and training people for triathlons, it is the one area that most people train for the least.

They try to make up for it in the cycle and running, so you can gain a huge advantage. We have compiled some tips for training for the swim stage, so that you can be better prepared for your upcoming triathlon.

Swimming Tips For A Successful Triathlon

  1. Consider the fact that you need your legs for the cycling and running part of the triathlon. You want to consider swimming with strokes that require more arm use than leg use, so that when you need to cycle like mad, you have the leg power to do so.

    You won’t fancy doing backstroke, but front crawl is one kind of swimming technique that could take you far in the swimming stage of a triathlon. The breast stroke is certainly good for helping you go fast but be aware that it will tire your legs out more than another top-heavy stroke would.

  2. If you’re going to have to wear a wetsuit for the race, then practice in a wetsuit. If you train without one, it’s kind of defeating the purpose, as a wetsuit is certainly going to add some weight to your swim and takes some getting used to.

    It may be hard to find a place where you can train in a wetsuit, but if you’re lucky to have lakes nearby or pools that allow the use of wetsuits, you can definitely gain some points for your race by practicing in a wetsuit.

  3. Practice long-distance swims. Swimming in a triathlon requires you to be good at long-distance swimming. Unlike in a pool where you do laps back and forth, your triathlon swim is going to be long and constant. Start building yourself up to the challenge by finding a local lake or ocean (if you live near one) to start training to swim longer and better each time.

    You can start off swimming towards a buoy in one spot, then building up to another goal, until finally, you have mastered the length of the swim that you’ll need to do in your triathlon.

  4. If you have the time to do so, consider competing in an outdoor swim race before your triathlon. This can help you to get used to the idea of a swim competition and help you to mentally prepare for what’s ahead. Just like any other kind of competition, your body may be ready, but your mind may not and getting used to the idea of swimming to win.

  5. When you practice swimming freestyle, focus on your head position. To help you stay focused and breathing well, look straight down when swimming this way. You don’t want to move your head around as much as your body.

  6. Learn how to minimize your kick. This may go against your initial thought of what winning a race looks like, but learning how to minimize how many times you kick and maximizing when you do can go far in helping you save your energy and keep your legs ready for the remaining part of the race.

  7. Test your heart rate after you swim. Before you start focusing on swimming long distances and other factors, you want to work on the intensity of your swim. Start by swimming in a pool and immediately after you finish, test your heart rate. If it doesn’t seem intense enough keep building up power until you are satisfied that your condition is where it should be.

  8. Make sure that your gear is perfect for you. The wrong gear can make or break your triathlon. Ill-fitting wetsuits and swim goggles can cause you to slow down and not keep your concentration. Worse yet is if you lose your swim goggles (check out during the race. It can throw you off completely and leave you very uncomfortable. Take your time in choosing the right gear for you, so you don’t have to stress about it on the day of the triathlon.

  9. Consider hiring a trainer to help you get in better shape in the water than ever before. If you’ve taken swim lessons throughout your life, you’re probably a decent swimmer. But, do you want to be just decent for your race? If you’re hoping to excel in the swimming stage of a triathlon, you might as well take lessons to make sure that you’re in tip-top shape for the race.


Triathlons are certainly worth training for, if you love pushing yourself further when it comes to fitness and outdoor activities. While you may not yet feel prepared for the swimming stage of the race, the above tips can help you to get started.

And if you have questions, then just comment below.

Hey everyone, I’m Sandra Ryan and I’ve been contributing to this website for almost a year now.

My professional background is in finance where I work at a small bank outside Austin, TX, as an accounting technician. I’m still gradually working towards becoming an accountant by attending night classes, but my real passion is sport.

I’ve been involved in martial arts since I was about 8 years old when I had to figure out ways to outdo my 3 older brothers who were in constant WWE style fights. Nothing ever happened more than bruises and the occasional cut, but once I started Taekwondo I just couldn’t get enough.

I have won many state championships over the years, but have started to take a bit of step back from competitive fighting. Mainly down to a few leg strain injuries that basically mean that I cannot perform at my absolute best anymore.

My hunger for competition has been replaced by running marathons and in the past 2 years also competing in triathlons. So far I have completed 7 marathons and 2 triathlons and my aim is to complete an Ironman in the next couple of years.

When the opportunity came up to contribute to a website with training tips I immediately loved the idea. You’ll see a lot of my blog posts on triathlon training, and if you have questions, just leave some comments.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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