The Two Keys to Preparing for Your Swim – Time and Patience


Most people have some sort of a biking or running base when they start training for a triathlon. The swim is a different story, however. It’s not uncommon for beginners to have never (or only occasionally) swam for exercise. To work your way up to a race distance swim, it’s important to take incremental steps and be patient. One way is to commit to doing the distance but not to worry too much about how you get there. As the swim becomes easier, transition from just “making it” to “making it good.” Ruth Kazez calls this the “Go Long” strategy.

If you are just beginning, there are two ways to increase your distance. You can do a mile from day one, changing your stroke to anything easy, even sidestroke and elementary backstroke, whenever necessary.

After a week, restrict the non-freestyle to something like every fourth lap, later to every eighth lap, until you’ve eliminated non-freestyle altogether. Or, using no alternative strokes, you can swim shorter distances, strictly limiting rest time to ten breaths, gradually increasing the yardage. Both methods should take about six weeks until you are able to do the whole mile non-stop, all freestyle. Read full the article…

Another thing to keep in mind is that your swim fitness won’t happen overnight. As frustrated as you might be, stick with it. You’ll always have good days and bad days but the more you practice, the fewer bad days there will be. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Gale Bernhardt suggests 12 weeks…

If your fitness has been dormant for quite awhile, it’s good to give yourself about 12 weeks to get in shape and minimize the chances of injury. In 12 weeks you can condition tendons, ligaments and your endurance so that you can enjoy the race. If you can commit to training five days per week-two and a half to four hours per week-that’s plenty of time to get in shape. Read the article…

However you prepare, be sure to relax and enjoy the swim. If you dread it, it’s not likely that you will spend the time nor patience you need to prepare.