How to Swim Faster in Triathlons: Tips and Techniques

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The swim leg of a triathlon sets the tone for the entire race, and being able to swim faster not only boosts your confidence but also saves valuable time.


In this article, I will share valuable tips and techniques that can help novice, intermediate, and advanced triathletes improve their swimming speed and efficiency.


Whether you’re just starting out or aiming to shave precious seconds off your swim time, read on for expert advice and personal anecdotes.

Table of Contents

Focus on Technique:

Regardless of your level of experience, honing your swimming technique is vital for faster swim times. Technique is what allows you to glide effortlessly through the water and expend less energy. Here are some key tips for improving your swimming technique:

Novice Triathletes

Master the Basics:
As a novice triathlete, it’s essential to start with the fundamentals. Familiarise yourself with the following techniques:

  • Body Position: Maintain a horizontal body position in the water, with your hips and legs near the surface.
  • Breathing: Practice rhythmic breathing by exhaling steadily underwater and taking quick inhales as you rotate your head to the side.
  • Arm Stroke: Focus on a high elbow catch, pulling your arm through the water using your forearm and hand.
  • Kick: Develop a steady and controlled kick, generating propulsion without wasting energy.

Increase Swim Volume:

To build endurance and become comfortable in the water, aim to increase your swim volume gradually. Begin with shorter distances and gradually increase the duration of your swim workouts. Consistency is key, so try to swim at least two to three times a week.

Enhance Your Strength and Conditioning:

Improving your overall strength and conditioning can significantly impact your swimming performance. Here’s how to do it based on your level:

Intermediate Triathletes

Incorporate Strength Training:
As an intermediate triathlete, you can benefit from incorporating strength training into your routine. Focus on exercises that target your core, shoulders, and upper back, such as planks, push-ups, and lat pulldowns. Strengthening these areas improves stability and power during your swim strokes.


Interval Training:
Interval training involves alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity swimming. Incorporate intervals into your workouts by performing shorter bursts of intense swimming followed by active recovery periods. This method helps improve your cardiovascular fitness, speed, and endurance.

Advanced Triathletes

Incorporate Resistance Training:
For advanced triathletes, adding resistance training can provide an extra edge. Consider using resistance bands or a drag parachute during your swim workouts. These tools increase water resistance, forcing your muscles to work harder and promoting greater strength gains.


Fine-Tune Your Interval Training:
As an advanced triathlete, you can fine-tune your interval training by focusing on specific aspects of your swim technique. For example, you can dedicate intervals to improving your start, turns, or sprinting abilities. This targeted approach enhances your overall swim performance and efficiency.

Improve Your Mental Game:

Swimming faster in triathlons not only relies on physical skills but also on mental preparedness. Here’s how to improve your mental game at each level:

Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced Triathletes

Use visualization techniques to mentally rehearse your swim leg. Before the race, visualize yourself gliding effortlessly through the water, maintaining proper form, and achieving your desired swim time. This mental rehearsal helps build confidence and reduces race-day anxiety.


Breathing and Relaxation Techniques:
Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and relax your body. Controlled breathing can help alleviate stress and improve focus during training and races. Incorporate breathing exercises into your pre-race warm-up routine to enhance relaxation and mental clarity.


Improving your swim speed in triathlons is an ongoing process that requires dedication, consistency, and a focus on technique.


Whether you’re a novice, intermediate, or advanced triathlete, the tips and techniques provided in this article can help you swim faster and more efficiently.


Remember, each small improvement adds up over time, so keep striving to enhance your swimming skills.


With practice and perseverance, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your swimming goals and conquering triathlons with greater confidence and success.

Coach Shamus

At the heart of MultiSportCoaching is Coach Shamus, a seasoned athlete and experienced coach with a passion for helping others achieve their goals. With over 25 years of experience in coaching athletes of all levels, Coach Shamus has the knowledge and expertise to help you reach your full potential.
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