top of page

Coaches Blog

Tips for Beginner Swimmers

  1. Don’t balk at adult swim lessons.

    1. Do not feel bad about not knowing how to swim or being uncomfortable in the water. Humans typically do not spend much time swimming, so it is normal to be unsure about the water. Adult swim lessons are a great way to build confidence over time. Be sure to find an instructor/ program that values water safety and technique.

    2. For those who can swim but need to work on developing their stroke(s), adult swim lessons can be very beneficial. Swimming well is all about efficiency. Refining techniques to become more efficient can help a beginner swimmer progress more quickly.

  2. Learn to relax in the water.

    1. Staying relaxed allows swimmers to use their energy to swim rather than fight the water. When people tense up in the water, they tend to have difficulty staying near the surface.

    2. Build in intentional time under the water. Adding time underwater helps the swimmer learn to become more relaxed and confident while swimming.

  3. Start by counting time in the water, not yardage.

    1. When starting out swimming, prioritizing learning to become comfortable and confident in the water will pay off when it's time to ramp up the workouts. As a coach, I would much rather an athlete swim 500 yards with ease than 1000 yards panicked and with poor technique. Quality over quantity.

  4. Get a well-fitting swimsuit.

    1. A well-fitting swimsuit will help cut down on drag. For the sake of practice, a swimmer does not need to completely eliminate drag, but cutting down on the amount of drag can certainly help. Learning to swim well is hard enough; you do not need your equipment dragging you down too! That said, there is no reason to purchase a $500 technical suit. These suits are designed for the competitive swimmer to wear at high-stakes swim meets. A training swimsuit will likely cost $40-$75, be more comfortable, and will last much longer.

    2. Men might swap out the board shorts for jammers or briefs. Jammers are tight-fitting and go to the knee (think cycling shorts without the pad), and briefs are what most people think of as a “speedo.”

    3. Women should look for “competition” one-piece or two-piece swimsuits. These should be “comfortably tight,” meaning that the suit fits well against the skin but is not painful in any area.

    4. Polyester swimsuits do not have as much give or stretch but will last much longer than Nylon/Lyrca swimsuits.

    5. At the end of the day, wear what you are comfortable in! Yes, cutting down drag can help, but forcing yourself to train in a swimsuit you hate is even worse. It is most important to choose a swimsuit that gives you confidence and meets your modesty needs.

    6. The Swim Outlet is a great resource for purchasing swim gear--and Team MPI athletes get a discount! Contact your Team MPI coach to learn more!

  5. Invest in quality goggles.

    1. Quality goggles allow the swimmer to focus on swimming rather than their eyes burning from chlorine. Because each person’s face is shaped differently, it is worth exploring different styles of goggles to see what best fits you.

    2. Also, consider your swimming conditions. If you swim outside regularly, mirrored goggles are the way to go. If you are swimming in an older, darker indoor pool, light or even clear lenses may be best.

    3. Goggles are worth spending a few extra dollars on. $20-$40 goggles will likely be good quality and should last, provided they are taken care of. On the flip side, there is not a great benefit to $80-$100 racing goggles unless a swimmer finds them to be significantly more comfortable.

    4. Triathlon-specific goggles can be overrated unless that is what works best for the swimmer. For outdoor swims, make sure to have a mirrored pair of goggles available for sunny days.

  6. Caps help with long hair

    1. Most beginners hate wearing swim caps. It is an odd thing to get used to, but just like a well-fitting swimsuit, a cap can help cut down on drag and keep long hair out of a swimmer’s face.

    2. Silicone vs. latex: Silicone swim caps will be thicker and more expensive but should last longer than latex. Silicone also tends to pull less on hair. Latex caps are thin, which can help keep a swimmer cool during a workout. Triathletes must wear a specific cap given to them in their race packet. Typically these caps are latex, but if a swimmer prefers silicone, they can wear a silicone cap under the required cap for the race.

    3. No need to invest in a dome cap just yet. Dome caps are designed for racing and can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.

    4. No matter the type of cap, be sure the center line of the cap is in line with your nose and does not go from ear to ear.

  7. Using fins is not cheating.

    1. Depending on your swimming goals, using fins for the first several months of swimming may not be bad. If fins help a new swimmer feel more confident in the water and keep them returning to the pool, then why not use fins often or at all times? Fins are not permitted during competition, so if an athlete’s goal is to compete, then the athlete will need to work up to becoming comfortable without the fins.

  8. Kicking counts too.

    1. Kicking and using a kickboard is a way to spend time in the water without having a swimmer's face in the water. For a new swimmer, this can be a nice break from having their head in the water and allow them to relax and catch their breath.

  9. Start with 1-2 days a week, then work your way up

    1. You do not have to start by swimming every day. Try to be consistent when you can, but do not beat yourself up about how often you go to the pool.

  10. Find a swimming buddy.

    1. Find someone to swim with or an accountability buddy. New ventures are best when you can share with other people.

  11. Take your time, and reach for improvement over long periods of time.

    1. You do not need to become an expert swimmer overnight. Allow yourself plenty of time to improve (even years) but be sure to notice small improvements in shorter amounts of time. Look at how you have improved; do not fixate on where you wish to be.

  12. Bonus tip - Hire a coach!

    1. Hiring a certified coach can help a new athlete set a training plan based on individual abilities and needs, see improvements, and provide accountability.

    2. Hire a coach to do some swim video analysis. Having someone analyze your stroke can be immensely beneficial, especially when that person is a certified coach and knows what to look for!

    3. Visit to get a free coaching consultation!

Happy swimming!


Coach Sydney brings more than 20 years of swimming experience to Team MPI as both a swimmer and coach. As a swimmer, she was a Colorado State Champion, State Record Holder, and All-American. She moved on to compete for the University of North Texas, an NCAA Division I team, qualifying for National Invite and Conference USA Championships. As a coach, Sydney has coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level with UNT and is now the Head Coach for the Colorado Torpedoes in Manitou Springs, CO.


bottom of page