Triathlon Coach Janet Wilson: USAT Certified Triathlon Coach for athletes from beginner to Ironman

Triathlon Coach - Triathlon Coach Janet Wilson - Tulsa, Oklahoma - Coach-Janet.com

I am a competitive triathlete with over 14 years of experience in Multisport events and training, ranking nationally in my age group. I am a Level One Certified Coach with USA Triathlon and a Certified Personal Trainer (American Council on Exercise). I reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I do personal coaching. I also coach athletes online. I have coached people at all levels, including many first-time triathletes and can help you achieve your triathlon and fitness goals. Services I provide for clients include:

Develop distance-specific triathlon training plans
Get you started on your first triathlon
Sharpen your skills in the three disciplines
Oversee triathlon-specific weight training
Provide triathlon-specific stretching exercises
Give you pointers (triathlon gear, triathlon transitions, and triathlon race strategy)
Oversee and coach speed work
Provide swimming instruction and swim tips

Contact me at 918-760-7167 or email me: info@coach-janet.com

Why improve your triathlon swim?

I had a client tell me about how his races have changed since becoming a better swimmer.  All the good things about controlling pace and being efficient, well trained and ready…  Well all that was good.  The bad thing was it became much harder to find the bike in T2.  

After the Redman Aquabike swim I have decided to get a pocket added to my wetsuit to carry business cards. On my second lap of the Redman Aquabike swim I noticed several, maybe 25 or more people standing (not swimming) in the shallow water side of the swim course. That’s right – standing up during the swim.

I can’t imagine getting in to swim a mile or more in a lake and truly not being able to.  What a scary and unsettling way to start a race.

Please get with your local tri club or fitness center and find a coach to help you learn to swim.  It’s a life long skill that could save your life, besides the fact it will make your triathlons way more fun.  Also teach your children to swim.  I’m so glad my Mother got me in lessons at 5 years old.  I spent most my youth at the local pool playing.  I raced in High School for the small local team and several years later raced again in a masters program in St. Louis.

I’ve have great success with beginning swimmers in just 3 to 5 lessons.  Sometimes even one session gives someone a breakthrough.  My first goal is to get them efficiently swimming and then to control the pace, find and complete their goal distance at a comfortable pace.  From there we work on more technique and swim strength, endurance and speed.  Good swimmers are built in my opinion.

Get in the water!

Triathlon Swim – Triathlon Swimming Tips from Triathlon Coach Janet Wilson

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Click above to watch the 3-minute swim class by Janet Wilson. You’ll learn 5 keys to a strong swim leg for your next triathlon. Want a larger version? Click here for the triathlon swimming tips page.

  • Swim technique. If you don’t have good technique this is the first thing to work on. You can seek out help from a masters swim program. Sometimes even places that teach kids how to swim will also help adults who want to swim competitively. One of the best programs I’ve seen on triathlon swimming is from the “Tri Swim Coach” Kevin Koskella.
  • Repetition is the key to becoming a strong swimmer. The only way to improve your swimming is to keep doing it. If you are doing a race with an open water swim you should definitely add some practice open water swims to your training plan – you especially need to practice “sighting” in the water (swimming straight to a location). The good news is that swimming is a low-impact way to build your cardiovascular system.
  • Swimming with a group can keep you motivated. A group can keep you challenged to improve. A coached group is also a good place to start. A coach can give you feedback about your form or technique.
  • Upper body strength will help your swimming. As you develop your weight training program, don’t forget to work on upper body and core strength. This will definitely help your swimming.
  • What to wear during the swim. A snug fitting swimsuit – some people wear bike shorts – is best. This makes sure it doesn’t catch water during the swim. For lake swims, if the water temperature is 78 degrees or below you can wear a wetsuit. Most people will wear one if they have the option because a wetsuit helps add to your buoyancy in the water and keeps you warm. If you don’t have a wetsuit you need to get used to swimming in cold water.
  • How far do I have to swim to do my first triathlon? This is probably the number one question I get from beginners. It’s obviously a good idea to be able to swim at least the race distance (usually 500 meters in a sprint race) before you do your first triathlon. However, if your race has a pool swim don’t be worried if you’re not sure you’ll be able to swim without stopping – most pool swims allow you to hold onto the wall at the end of the pool to rest (just remember to keep your feet off the bottom of the pool – check with the race director before your race).

“Help! I Sink Like a Rock!” – 5 Tips to Help You Swim Level In the Water During Your Next Triathlon Swim.

I got an email from a beginner triathlete that went like this: “Can you help me with my triathlon swimming? When I get in the water I sink like a rock and can’t keep myself near the top of the water. Any tips?”

This is a pretty common problem for triathletes struggling with their swimming. It is an important problem to fix, too. The more of your body (low hips and legs) you have to pull through the water, the slower you go and the more energy you use during the swim. Slower and more tired getting out of the water is not a good combination.

If your hips are sinking then you aren’t level in the water and that causes problems. Here are 5 tips on how to teach yourself to swim level in the water during your next triathlon swim.

1. One common misconception is that you need to swim “on top” of the water. The first thing you need to understand is that your goal is not to be “on top” of the water – you can work so hard on pushing your body up that your stroke suffers. Your goal is to be level in the water, with mainly your arms and mouth (during your breathing) out of the water. Swim some without your swim cap so you can feel where the water line hits your head. You want more than half your head to be below the water line – higher than that and you are probably holding your upper body too high, which can cause your hips to drop.

2. Take a big breath. When your lungs are full of air they act like a life preserver and make it easier to keep your whole body higher and level in the water. Use this as your “ballast” that you push to raise your hips (see tip number 3 for more about this). Practice holding your breath during most of your stroke, exhaling quick at the end just as you begin your next big breath.

3. A big part of swimming is just getting comfortable. Practice floating on both your stomach and your back. Practice rolling from your stomach to your back and then back to your stomach. Concentrate on pressing your chest (if you are on your stomach) or your shoulder blades (on your back) into the water. You should notice that your hips pop up level with the rest of your body.

4. Concentrate on your balance during drills. Swim lengths of the pool doing stroke drills where you concentrate on your balance and pressing your chest into the water.

5. Improve your kicking form. Many beginner triathletes kick by bending their legs a lot at the knee – this can definitely cause your hips to sink in the water. You want to stay very long in water, so your kick needs to be from your hips, not your knees. Swim some drills wearing flippers and concentrate on keeping your knees somewhat straight (they can bend, but only slightly). Flippers will also improve flexibility in your ankles, which will further improve your swim stroke. I sometimes imagine that I’m wearing flippers while swimming to improve my kick technique.

If you use these tips during your swim training you should see your swim times drop and you should have more energy on the bike when you get out of the water.