Swimming: You probably don’t need to train as much as you think

Most triathletes love swimming.

Ok – that’s not true…

In fact it probably couldn’t be further from the truth!

For a lot of triathletes swimming is their weakest / most feared discipline – and so the temptation is to assume lots of time has to be put into swim training.

Coach Rob has a slightly different take on it though.

Watch below and see what he has to say on the matter…


Swimming, for triathletes who don’t come from a swimming background, can be incredibly frustrating – even daunting.

If you’re already a mid-pack swimmer, there’s a decision for you to make. So – assuming you have limited overall training time available, where is that best spent across swim / bike / run? How much training time in each discipline will bring you the biggest improvement in your overall triathlon race time?

For a lot of people – the ‘typical’ age grouper with 7-10 hours per week training time – spending 3 hours per week in the pool, plus time spent travelling, changing etc – may not be the best use of that time.

Spending 3 hours per week swimming might help you knock a handful of minutes off your overall swim time on race day. But if spending a chunk of that time biking and / or running, especially over winter, enables you to knock 10-15 minutes off of those disciplines on race day you should be questioning which is the best use of that available time.

We’ve worked with many such athletes who reduced their swimming down to 1 session from 3 (or often more) per week. They typically see very little, and sometimes no drop off in their swim times. But the gains they make in other disciplines with  the extra available time is significant.

There is (of course!) a caveat here.

That is –  if you’re new to swimming and / or a poor swimmer who is worried about making the swim cut-off in races then you need a different approach.

If that’s you, you’re likely a strong biker and / or runner. And you’ll be used to working hard in training and seeing improvements. Unfortunately with swimming, ‘working hard’ doesn’t necessarily translate to faster times.

If you’re working hard with poor technique, you’re essentially training your body to get used to swimming by reinforcing poor technique length after length, session after session and making yourself tired.

Your precious pool time should be spent improving your technique. Get your swim stroke and technique analysed. Ideally find a swim coach to video you under and over the water so that you can understand the flaws in your stroke. You can then get specific swim drills prescribed that will improve those elements of your stroke.

You will build swim fitness as you practice good technique, and only when you’ve properly addressed the major issues with your stroke should you think about increasing the volume. remember – “practice makes permanent” (not perfect in this case!) so only practice what you want to be reinforcing – i.e. good technique.

THAT is the most effective way to improve your swim.

Happy swimming 🙂

Subscribe to the

Team Oxygenaddict


Get training tips, videos, freebies and offers from Coach Rob & Team Oxygenaddict!

Subscribe to the
Team Oxygenaddict

You have Successfully Subscribed!