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Expanding your program to triathletes

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Q: Id like to expand my program by including triathletes. Im not a triathlete and have limited knowledge of the sport. What can I do to gain the skills necessary to be a successful coach for this group?

A: Many of us have had Do a triathlon on our bucket list for quite some time. This item has become buried at the bottom of my bucket, covered with other items with a higher priority and many layers of excuses. Maybe my triathlon experience will be relegated to teaching my grandkids to swim, ride a bike, and chase me around the playground.

Does my lack of participating in the traditional triathlon disqualify me from being an effective swim coach for triathletes? Not if I believe that my skills as a Masters swim coach can help the triathlete get better at their sport.

My philosophy is to train all triathletes to be swimmers. This builds their confidence, swimming endurance, and stroke efficiency. Proper training should also reduce the risk of injury to the athlete.

To effectively coach a triathlete competing in open water, become more knowledgeable in the following areas:

  • Race strategy: start, pace, finish
  • Skills: sighting, buoys turns, drafting
  • Stroke technique: breathing, timing, propulsion, efficiency
  • Energy systems
  • The purpose of interval training

You can find more information about training triathletes on

Thankfully for Masters coaches, on race day the swim comes first, and the other disciplines dont have an impact on the outcome of their swim. While you cant win a triathlon during the swim, you certainly can lose it by expending more energy than necessary or not finishing the swim at all.

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