If I only had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “I want to do a triathlon but I am a poor swimmer.” People even tell me that they want to do a triathlon but can’t swim. Hmm…. This is not good. The swimming portion of a triathlon is usually in “open water”-also known as a lake or ocean. Just sayin’.

1. Relax. Easy for me to say. You must be comfortable in the water. Adults who did not learn to swim as small children have F-E-A-R. Drowning is a serious issue. Now do you want to swim in cold dark water?

How do you learn to relax? Ah, a question. You learn to float (on front & on back) and pick up coins off the bottom of the pool floor. Any adult or child who has ever taken a lesson from me has done this.  Learn to roll over onto your back to breathe and how to tread water. Please review my blog articles on rolling over onto your back (Part One and Part Two). You also can do somersaults and “cannonballs.” Do these things until they are fun. Remember fun? It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!

2.  Swim slowly to swim fast. What did she say? Once you learn to swim, you do not “slug” your way from one side of the pool to the other. You “feel” the water. Go slowly and wait to take a breath. This may take a wee-bit more time to learn. Everyone is always in such a hurry to get to the other side. Remember when you were picking up coins from the bottom of the pool? There was a point to that. You have more air inside your lungs than you may think. Learn to take your breath at the “right time.” If you don’t, you will be shoveling water into your mouth. I could write a book about all the water I have seen my students drink. Oh, I am writing a book. You may be in it! Remember rule number one……….relax.

3.  Get a teacher or coach. Do not waste your precious time self-coaching if you are a novice. How do you know if you are in a streamline position? If your head is too high? If you are catching the water with your forearm? Free tip: You catch the water with your hand. Getting faster isn’t about “powering” your way to the other end. You will become faster with more “mileage” (time spent swimming correctly). Learn to swim slowly, feel the water, and relax. Stop saying “I hate swimming or I am not good at it.”  Think about all of the time that you put into running and biking and put the same effort into training for the swim portion of the triathlon.  You will be amazed at how great of a swimmer you become.