Front crawl swimmingIf you’re a triathlete is it even worth working on your front crawl swimming? After all the swimming part of a triathlon is tiny compared to the rest of the race.

In a pool sprint distance race the swim might be 6-10minutes out of a total of 1-2hrs of racing. In an Ironman the swim might typically take 1-2hrs out of a total or  11-16hrs of racing.

So, many triathletes take the attitude that most of their time needs to be spent cycling and running and they’ll survive the swim. I think that this means you’ll be missing out on lots of things.

Here are some reasons for triathletes to take the time to work on your front crawl swimming technique.

Faster is Faster

Personally I think that time saved is time saved. Faster is faster however you get there!  It’s a race and the faster I can be across all disciplines the faster my overall finish time will be.

Take the gains where you can get them

I’m not so good at running but because I can swim front crawl and cycle pretty well my overall finish time works out pretty decent. In fact when I started out I thought I was so hopeless at all of it that I took the attitude that I’d get better at whatever I could. If that meant working on my front crawl swimming I’d take that as I felt like I needed the gains wherever I could get them.

Holistic Approach

View triathlon holistically rather than 3 individual sections. To get faster at triathlon you need to be good at all of it. So getting better at swimming and improving your front crawl  will help you.

Learn to enjoy it

Many triathletes survive the swim and don’t enjoy swimming at all. Personally I think this is a shame. Why do something in your spare time that you don’t enjoy? Instead why not figure out how to enjoy it?  I have usually found that learning more about an activity, getting better at it, and becoming more efficient has helped me to enjoy it more whether this is triathlon, yoga or lifting weights.

Saves energy

Being an efficient front crawl swimmer saves you time and energy else where. This means you’ve got more left in the tank for the rest of the race.


Being confident in your stroke and your swim ability will save you wasting energy on stress and anxiety.

More efficient swimmers are usually more confident and can cope with any conditions thrown at them on race day. You’ll cope better with rough swims, cold swims, non wetsuit swims and the scrum in mass start events.

Less Training

Swimming is a skill for life! I find that because I’ve spent a lot of time working on my stroke when I have a lot of time out of the water my speed doesn’t drop off much at all not like having a lot of time off running does.

This means that if you swim efficiently you’ll be able to  maintain the same speed for less training and then you’ll have more time to spend running and cycling.

Movement skill

Improving your front crawl swimming and working on your stroke will help your co-ordination and body awareness all of which are important for longevity as a triathlete. All that time spent running and cycling in a straight line often isn’t good for your body and your posture. Working on your swim stroke can be an antidote to that.

Low impact

Swimming is a low impact activity that’s lower stress on your body than cycling and running. So working on your front crawl swim technique can help make you faster without the training stress of cycling and running.  I often get injured with running so if I can work on being a faster triathlete with swimming I’ll take that.

It’s Fun

As always I say it’s fun to learn something new.  It can be refreshing to change your swimming sessions to thinking about skills and movement rather than times, effort and splits.

If you’re a triathlete and have a race coming up then it’s never too late to get some tips to help your swim. You can book a video analysis and assessment here or if you have lots of questions then get in touch and book a FREE 15min Lets chat here.

More Tips

I’m Penny. I’ve been taking part in triathlon for 18 years and I’ve completed 7 Ironman distance races. I’ve helped countless athletes train towards their first and their 10th Ironman. So whatever your goal or experience get in touch to find out how I can help.