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All You Need To Know About Triathlon Swimming Training

Want to feel confident about your triathlon swimming?

Want to swim fast but not live to regret it during the rest of the race?

The feeling of moving through the water fast and effortlessly is the holy grail of swimming.

With our key tips on triathlon swimming training and technique you will soon feel confident in the water and improve your times.

The swim is generally the shortest section of the triathlon in both time and distance. Typically it takes up about 15 to 20% of the race duration, depending upon ability and event length.

However the majority of triathletes spend far more then 20% of their training time on the swim. So why is that?

Technique - That’s why.

Swimming with an effective technique will make substantial gains to your triathlon performance for a few reasons:

  1. Better technique will improve your speed for no extra energy cost (or change in fitness)
  2. Better technique will help you draft faster swimmers and gain even more time.
  3. Better swimming technique can mean you have to work less hard to hold a position in a swimming pack and save energy for later in the race.

Swimming is about practice, practice, practice, as much as it is about training.

Is Triathlon Swimming Different To Just Straightforward Swimming?


Well there are quite a few similarities, particularly in the basic technique for front crawl. However competition swimming is performed in the clinical environment of a pool, with only one person in a lane and usually over distances that are shorter than nearly all triathlon events.

Many triathlons take place in open water. This can be in rivers, lakes, docks or the sea. The swim can occasionally be in a pool, particularly for the shorter events.

However a triathlon never has one person swimming on their own and the course is rarely marked with a line along the bottom. Wetsuits are commonly used, particularly in cooler climates. These change the buoyancy and stroke of a swimmer.

All of these things and more make swimming in a triathlon different to just straightforward swimming.

Triathlon swimming start

Is That It Then, Improve Technique?

Although a big part of swimming well, great technique is not enough. You will need to train to improve your swimming fitness to really improve your performance.

Swim workouts are usually broken down into chunks, more than either cycling or running. Therefore the construction of a training session for swimming is usually quite different to that of a run or bike session.

Swimming Training Articles

As always see our pages on how to construct a triathlon training program to fit all this together into your triathlon training plan.

Swim endurance

Swim Training For Endurance

Good swim endurance means less fatigue on exiting the water. Find out the different types of endurance work and key sessions for all levels of triathlete.

triathlon swi

Swim Training For Speed

Find out how to improve your swimming speed, how to use your critical swim speed to do this, and a range of sessions to try.

How to Improve Your Triathlon Swimming Technique

Technique can have a big impact on your performance in triathlon races. Find out how to include swimming exercises in your programme and some great resources to help you improve.

Open Water Swimming

A 3 step guide to open water swimming for triathlon, to give you confidence and skill in the water.

Shoulder Stability and Strength

Prevent injury and improve functional strength and mobility for better swimming technique. All triathletes should be doing these exercises!

triathlon wetsuit

Wetsuit Reviews

Love your wetsuit? Then tell us about it!

Looking to buy a new one? Read other triathletes' reviews for top tips to help you choose yours.

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Got a question about your training, gear, race preparation? Ask us here!

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Wetsuits & Reviews

Beginner Triathlete


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Wetsuits & Reviews

Beginner Triathlete