Competent runner & cyclist but terrible swimmer..

Hi all,

I was wondering what you would recomend for someone that can do 10k run in just over 40mins and loves to cycle but is a terrible swimmer. I really want to get into triathlon, and eventually do an IM with a friend. The trouble is I've never been a great swimmer and I can't afford to be doing lessons.

Its the one part of triathlon that makes me slightly scared to do it! My build is perfect for long distance running (tall and skinny!) but probably not the best for swimming?

How good do you really need to be at swimming to have a go at standard length triathlon? Do I need to get my breathing and strokes in time and all that or can a newbie get away with just making sure I can swim 1500m alright in a pool? Also what sort of time should I be looking to complete the swim in? I'm concerned that I'll have exhausted myself in the swim and then have a terrible cycle/run to finish.




  • I'd say you'd fit in well here. Welcome aboard Sam.

    Can you swim? Perhaps see a swim teacher or go along to masters/tri club and see how you get on. Failling that get in the pool 2-3 times a week and check online resources like swimwmooth.

    I had a similar problem and started to swim in anger Jan11. Did my first novice tri in May11 (300m swim). I was swimming twice a week.

    Good luck!

  • image mate some of us are still sh*te swimmers and do ok. Just means you get to overtake a few people on the bike. Just take a look at some of the races and see what the cut off time is for the swim and work it out from there. for a lot of races there is a generous cut off. For a tri you might want to think about doing a sprint tri first and seeing if you like it or not.

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭

    Just get down the pool and have a go. When I signed up for my first tri, 3 yrs ago, I struggled to do 4 lengths and just couldn`t get the breathing right. I read a couple of books / studied some youtube videos and slowly but surely with plenty of practice I got up to the required 1500m within a couple of months or so. As I knew I could run a sub 40 min 10k i decided to cut my runs down to once / twicw a week and concentrate on my swinning and cycling. I managed about 34 mins for the swim and was not last there was prob about 30% behind me.

    Hope this helps

  • Thanks, that swimsmooth site looks very helpful! I can swim, I'm just not at all confident with the breathing and head underwater stuff and have no technique! I know I'll need all that for the most efficient swim. I'll look into race cut off times too thanks.

  • Cheers Millsy, that does help! Very encouraging!

  • Sounds familiar!

    As above + also remember it is easier to swim with a wetsuit in ow as not much stop start and you get buoyancy from the wetsuit. (My second open water swim I went about 30m past the turning buoy, stuck my head up and then panicked as I couldn't see anybody - it's all good fun really!)

  • Agree with all of the above.  I too am from a running and cycling background and until a few months ago couldn't do more than 50m swimming  without needing a good long rest.

    I got myself a handful of 1-2-1 lessons at my local pool and coupled them with the pointers from the Total Immersion book.  While I'm still along way from being anything close to compotent, I'm getting better week by week as my technique improves.


    All the best!

  • There's nothing to say you have to do front crawl though breaststroke in a wetsuit is likely to use more energy.  Not a problem in a pool swim though.

    Have heard it said that you need to swim 3 times per week for maintainance and 4 time to improve.  Also recently read an article which suggested swimming every day for a week to see maximum improvement. 

    I know you've said you can't afford lessons but swimming really is all about technique.  You can doubtless improve by just swimming more often but it really is worth having a lesson or two early on to try to avoid having to unlearn poor technique later on.

    Have fun image

  • Is there a locl swimming club you could join for a while who are willing/able to help you with your swimming?

    When I was satrting out I could run (sort of but only short distances) and was a keen cyclist. But my swimming ability was best described as not drowning!! A local Masters swimming club (I did work with one of their committee members) helped me out and taught me to swim. I did have to join the club, but it was oly ??15 a month and that included getting into the pool!!
  • Theres lots of hope.

    I had never swum front crawl when i entered the london triathlon.

    I just got in and swam front crawl. probably 400 m the first time, then 600, 700, 1k etc.

    I did a total of 10 swims before the was enough to get me around the swim in 35 mins - loved bobbing around in rubber before the race, started at the back of my wave and really enjoyed it. that put me at about 2/3 back in the race...but there were plenty a lot slower

    2 years later, srill with crap technique i did IMDE in 1:30. I had only swum 3.5 k a couple of times......

    Just got back in the pool yesterday and knocked off 1500 in the pool in 30 mins... Thats after some swim coaching that got me down to a IM swim in 1:12. thats still mid pack

    I struggle to swim 3 times a week. while i am not getting much faster i am a lot fresher when i finnish the swim.
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