Triathletes and Competitive Swimmers: “All They Share is Water” by Terry Laughlin

Click here to watch and listen to Terry Laughlin’s thoughts on this subject.

Over 90% of age group triathletes come to the sport with no formal background in swimming. And yet the long-distance, open-water swimming you’re trying to master is as demanding as it comes.

So where do you find help for your swimming?

Many triathletes take their cues from competitive swim coaches and teams, but is that really the best approach?

Before founding Total Immersion Terry Laughlin competed as a swimmer from age 14 to 20, then spent 20 years coaching competitive swimmers–including over two dozen national champions.

For the past 25 years, Terry worked mainly with late-starting adults who want to participate in a triathlon or to reap the low-impact, heart-healthy, all-around body-toning benefits of swimming.

And in his own life and swimming, Terry committed to both: swimming for life as well as competing on a high level in Open Water events–where, since age 55, I’ve won numerous national titles myself.

Through all these varied experiences, Terry come to this conclusion:

The only thing that triathlon, open-water, and fitness swimming have in common with competitive swimming is water.

Let’s examine the differences between competitive swimmers and triathletes and open water swimmers.

Competitive (Pool) Swimmers

Their average age is 15. By virtue of their young age, they ‘automatically’ get faster each year simply by virtue of growing taller and stronger.

They train for only one sport.

Their average race lasts just over two minutes . . . during which their goal is to swim to exhaustion.

While racing in the pool, they take fewer than 20 uninterrupted strokes before their arms get a ‘rest break’ during the turn and pushoff.

Triathlon and Open Water Swimmers

Their average age is 45+. They need to train intelligently and resourcefully simply to hold the line on aging.

Triathletes train for three sports, not just one.

The races they swim last 40 minutes to over two hours.

A triathlete needs to finish their swim fresh enough to cycle and run strongly for many miles.

While racing in open water they typically take thousands of uninterrupted strokes with no ‘rest breaks’

When you consider these striking contrasts, it becomes clear that the triathlon or open water swimmer has virtually nothing in common with the competitive swimmer.

So, why would you want to train like them?

Click here to watch and listen to Terry Laughlin’s thoughts on this subject.

Suggested Reading:

Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin



Registered Architect & Visual Artist

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