The Three-legged Stool Supports Triathlon Swimming


Posted by Coach John Murray

As a triathlon coach that specializes in swimming, I see dozens of athletes each year that have limited swimming exposure and are seeking help to improve. Although none lack motivation, most lack the knowledge on how to improve. In an effort to “do the work” to get better, they will arrive at the pool and swim. No real plans…just swim.

For a better use of time, Team MPI recommends a plan that includes three “legs” to support your swimming.


#1 Technique- First and foremost we require efficient technique. Jumping in the pool and swimming laps with sub-optimal technique tends to create more incorrect muscle memory and bypasses the road to efficiency. Spend time with a reputable swim coach to have your stroke analyzed and get recommended swimming drills to correct flaws. 


#2 Endurance- As you are working on technique, gradually add some endurance swim training. This addition must make sense for your ability. Some swimmers may just start with 5-10 minutes of lap swimming, taking a break at EVERY wall. Your coach can prescribe a plan to increase time and distance over several months. Most likely technique will still be a part of your endurance-building plan.


#3 Open Water Familiarization- The vast majority of triathlons happen in lakes, rivers and oceans. The third part of your plan includes spending time in the open water. Always swim in safe areas with others. Initially many will just need to work on getting over or managing their anxiety. Other open water skills include sighting, drafting, wetsuit use and swimming in a crowd.


As you are beginning or continuing on your triathlon journey, put together your plan to develop your swimming efficiency, endurance and open water confidence. Seek out an experienced triathlon coach to guide you.

Team MPI coaches offer one-on-one swim training as well as pool and open water swim clinics several times per year. If you are in the Boise, Idaho area, Coach Mark Sortino is holding a free Team MPI Open Water Swim Clinic on June 4, 2016. See our website for more information or to register

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