Why the Swim is Often the Dealbreaker

author : Team BT
comments : 1

Triathletes are make or not made based on access to and confidence at swimming

The swim.

It's a four-letter word.

Frequently the swim is what keeps an otherwise motivated person from really pursuing the sport of triathlon.

Let's look at the barriers and strategies to overcome them.

Finding a place to train

It's easy to run and bike. You just go outside. While it's true that outdoor training is more limited in places with extreme weather and in crowded cities, it's nothing that would stop a determined person. You can purchase a stationary trainer device for your bicycle and ride in your bedroom, if necessary. You can run on a treadmill or in circles around the playground or soccer game. But swimming. That's a different animal.

Most people have to drive to a pool or open water swimming venue. Pools charge membership or admission, which adds to the barriers. Open water that permits swimming is difficult to find, and once you do, it's not recommended that you swim alone.

Strategies: Search for low-cost gyms such as the YMCA that have a pool. Check with your local triathlon club or people on BeginnerTriathlete to see if there is a less costly option for swimming in your area. If you do have to join a pool, you can make it a win by also finding a place where you can strength train and run indoors.

If you live near an open water swimming area, sign up for a race that is later in the season so you have more time to swim outside in tolerable water temperatures. Buy a safety buoy, and visit the body of water at different times of day to try to find a training buddy.

Learning to Swim

Most people can figure out running and cycling, but swimming is a whole other matter. Take lessons if you can afford it. Join a Masters swim team even if you are terrible. You'll have a coach and the other swimmers can give you tips.

If all else fails, make friends with the lifeguard and ask him/her to watch your stroke and give you tips. If you are in the pool during lap swim time, the lifeguard may not have much to do and might be grateful for the distraction.

Find videos online and consider highly-rated training techniques such as Total Immersion. Attend a workshop if the videos aren't helping.

Unfortunately the challenges of swimming often create a bias against people with less money and without a cultural heritage of learning to swim. Many cultures, even some whose country of origin is along the sea, have fears and taboos about the water that run deep. We want our sport to be welcoming to athletes of all backgrounds. To that end, if you are already a competent swimmer, reach out and say hello to new swimmers who are struggling. If you smile, you might keep them from quitting their goal of triathlon.


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date: January 31, 2020

Team BT