Most, if not all, first time triathletes fear the swim part. The idea of swimming non stop hundreds of meters front crawl makes many of you decide not to go for that first triathlon. 5 months ago I started training for my first triathlon, the Aurland Xtreme Triathlon in Norway. At that time I never drove a road bike nor did I swim longer than 250 meters. Read this post on how you can go from just about zero to swim 1.900 meters in 26:36 minutes (exit the water in 11th place overall).
Evaluate Your Current Level
First of all we need to know where we stand. When I started training in March this year I was convinced I was a good swimmer. The image on the right could not have been more accurate about my situation. There are a few ways to evaluate your current level. The easiest one is to find a trainer ASAP. If you are still in doubt if you want to go for the triathlon and keep that money in your pocket, go out to your nearest pool, get in there and swim. First of all you want to know if you can swim 500 meters non stop. Let me be clear, it is not important if you swim these breast stroke. You probably be surprised that you can actually swim 500 meters non stop. Second you want to look around and check out the swimmers in the front crawl lane. Get out the water and just watch how fast they are swimming. I am sure you are surprised they swim not that fast you expected them to swim. The faster ones swim 4 km per hour. Take another 24 hours to decide whether you continue with the next step.
Get A Swim Coach
I would advise anyone to start off with googling a local swim coach. Since triathlons and swim races are becoming increasingly popular most cities offer group swim training at different levels. Make sure though you get a proper SWIM coach, not just some regular fitness guy that knows a thing or 2 about swimming. Swimming fast at triathlons is 60% technique, 20% endurance and 20% power. Technique is everything and key to success! It will take you probably months before you get to a decent front crawl level. Be patient and take your time! During all these trainings you will still build up strength and endurance. By the time you have developed a proper crawl you will be already fit enough to swim 2.000 meters.
Train, Train, Train
It takes dedication to become a good swimmer. That means spending at least 3 X 1 hour a week in the pool. The good thing about swimming is that an average session takes about 45 minutes. These can be easily squeezed into any busy schedule. I always swim at 7AM and will be ready for first meetings at 8:30AM. Apart from those dark circles under the eyes from your goggles sucked to your face, you will look and feel fantastic, success guaranteed!