A blog by runners. For runners.

Can’t swim? Here’s how to learn and train for a triathlon


You’re fascinated by triathlons and are eager to try one, however, there’s a problem:

You can’t swim.

But just like running, you can pick up swimming at any age. And, in my experience, triathletes are some of the most accepting and encouraging people so you there’s no need to feel intimated or embarrassed.

Here’s how to take the plunge:

  1. Join a beginner Tri group. This is one of the best things I did when I got started with the sport. These groups teach basic swimming techniques, management of bicycle parts, running form, and so much more. Plus, it’s a great way to meet others new to the sport.
  2. Take a swimming class. Many health clubs as well as the Y offer intro to swimming courses for adults.
  3. Find a swimming coach. Hiring a coach is the best way to learn proper swimming technique. You’ll also become familiar with water safety skills, which are essential for beginners.
  4. Become a student of swimming. Purchase books, watch videos, attend swim meets. Analyze swim technique and visualize your body performing the same. Fill your mind with knowledge and your body will soon follow.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. Once you have the basics of swimming down, and you feel safe in the pool, add workouts that will help you practice what you’ve learned. Avoid pressuring yourself to go faster. The more you practice, the speed at which you swim will increase.

When it comes to triathlons, you’re bound to be weaker in one area than another, and swimming is the Achilles’ heel for many. But, as always, with practice you will get better.

Did you learn how to swim specifically to compete in a triathlon? Let us know below!

Written by Danielle Bressoud  / Photo by Stuart Grout