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Two to Tri – How To Improve Triathlon Open Water Swimming Performance

Two New Books Guide Triathletes, Open Water Swimmers, and SwimRunners  to Swim Stronger Better, Faster

If you’re looking to boost your triathlon or open water swimming game and you’re like a lot of athletes, you probably need to focus on improving your swimming to have better overall performances. But how to go about making gains in a sport that can feel so foreign to land-based athletes? Enter two new comprehensive how-to manuals for triathletes. These two meaty volumes provide all you need to know to improve triathlon swim performance and open water triathlon swimming fitness and skills.

Triathlon Freestyle Simplified: Swim Stronger, Better, Faster
by Conrad Goeringer and Rob Sleamaker

Improve Triathlon Swim PerformanceThe book is targeted specifically at adult-learner swimmers and triathletes who have a different set of needs to improve their swimming from life-long swimmers who typically have a more intuitive feel for the water and years of honed technique to rely on when entering a triathlon, SwimRun, or open water swim.

Taking that notion of using dryland swimming simulation work to the next level, Conrad Goeringer, an Ironman certified coach and author of The Working Triathlete, along with Vasa founder Rob Sleamaker (co-author of SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes), present a streamlined, easy to read approach to getting faster and stronger in triathlon swimming by leveraging both on-land and in-water workouts.

Even “if you’re a seasoned athlete looking to launch off a plateau, this book will help reframe your perspective and offer guidance to tweak your approach so that you can capably reach the next level through deliberate practice,” they write.

Particularly for time-crunched, busy athletes looking to consistently maintain or improve their form and fitness, this approach will maximize what time you can spend swimming. Through a philosophy of efficiency and simplicity, the aim is to foster consistency that leads to stronger, better, faster swimming.

Targeted Swim Training BreathIn addition to providing detailed information about building a workout program that’s tailored for your specific needs and extensive information about proper technique with photos to show ideal form, “Triathlon Freestyle Simplified,” also includes a slew of tips and exercises that can be done with a Vasa Swim Erg, Vasa Swim Trainer, or stretch cords to reinforce good technique and develop power and strength.

triathlete dryland swim trainingOther strength training and land-based moves are also included to help you become a more well-rounded, balanced, and properly trained triathlete. Helpful links sprinkled throughout the book provide supporting information including blog posts and videos that further explain the concepts being presented.

And the advice contained in this volume isn’t solely Goering and Sleamaker’s—the pair have reached out to their extensive network of top triathlon coaches around the country to cull additional insights, helpful advice, and suggestions. Contributors include top-level coaches Martin Hill, Eric Neilsen, Jack Fabian, Tim Crowley, Steven Bentley, Keith Watson, Patrick McCrann, Ben Gathercole, Olympian Joe Maloy, and Xterra World-Champion Lesley Paterson. The book culminates in an 18-week swim plan that can be used to build a series of workouts that will get you in top form for your next race. From sighting and pacing to kicking, breathing, and drafting, their insight can teach you how to become the best triathlon swimmer you can.

conrad goeringerConrad Goeringer is an Ironman Certified Coach, founder of Working Triathlete, and author of The Working Triathlete. He has coached hundreds of athletes all over the world to triathlon success, including first-timers, age-group national champions, professionals, and world championship qualifiers. Conrad lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife Alex and golden retriever, Kona.

Rob SleamakerRob Sleamaker started his career in 1982 as an exercise physiologist conducting research and training endurance athletes. His first two books, SERIOUS Training for Serious Athletes, and second-edition, SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes (co-authored with Ray Browning, Ph.D.) became classic resources for coaches and athletes. One of Rob’s passions is using his creativity to solve problems, invent products, and innovate to serve others. He’s the founder of where he uses his grandfather’s wisdom: “Quality Costs Less.” Rob lives with his family in rural Vermont, where he enjoys cross-country skiing in winter and many other outdoor activities for the rest of the year.

Triathlon Swimming: Master Open-Water Swimming with the Tower 26 Method
by Gerry Rodrigues with Emma-Kate Lidbury and published by Velo Press

Book Triathlon Swimming Gerry RodriguesTriathlon Swimming offers the insights of legendary coach Gerry Rodrigues, founder of Tower 26. Rodrigues grew up in Trinidad and went on to coach some of the top athletes in triathlon, including Olympic medalists and world champions. A winner of more than 100 open water races himself, Rodrigues knows the sport inside and out from both the athlete’s and coach’s perspective. In this beautifully photographed and illustrated manual, he shares his recipe for triathlete swimming success.

Triathlon Swimming offers insightful commentary and clear descriptions of skills, training progressions, workouts, and other tidbits any swimmer needs to know when moving into open water. His approach can transform a beginner or mediocre swimmer into a world champion.

There are four main pillars of his approach:

  • Proper training prescription. “Committing to a sensibly periodized program that develops endurance, speed, power, technique, open-water optimization, and recovery yields the greatest gains,” Rodrigues writes
  • An increased volume of swim training. Most triathletes don’t swim enough to experience the kinds of gains they need to see an improvement in their times. Swimming longer and more frequently can improve this situation.
  • Improved swim mechanics. Improving your swimming speed requires improved mechanics, and throughout the book, Rodrigues uses easy-to-understand explanations and photos demonstrating good form and what to strive for in training and racing.
  • If you don’t make a commitment to training consistently you won’t improve. It’s that simple. Working with a coach can help you make a lasting commitment to continually improve.Rodrigues triathlon coach

Rodrigues advocates using the pool to your advantage to build up your skills and confidence before heading into open water. And beyond just swimming more and improving technique through drills and progressive workouts, this book also includes strength training and stretch cord exercises that can help build your swimming skills on dry land.

Final note: Both of these wide-ranging guides would be a welcome introduction for new triathlon swimmers and a great addition to the libraries of established triathletes and Masters swimmers, too.

About The Author: Elaine K. Howley is an award-winning freelance writer and editor specializing in sports, health, and history topics. She’s also a lifelong swimmer who specializes in cold water marathon swimming and calls greater Boston home. (Note: This is the first of a three-part series exploring how Vasa athletes are maintaining fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic.)