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Give it a Tri

Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. So what makes people give it a tri?!

Thanks to the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan, shooting to fame in the 2012 Olympics and taking Gold and Bronze medals respectively and other fantastic British triathletes such as Vicky Holland, Helen Jenkins and Non Stanford, triathlons have been widely exposed in the media. They also offer a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself in three different disciplines - running, cycling and swimming.

Whether you are an experienced athlete, a complete novice or a fundraiser, there are triathlon events to suit all ages and ability, from children to adults. It is also a happy medium in endurance sport compared to other events such as marathons, Ironman and Tough Mudder as the mix of training is more balanced for your body whilst still improving your fitness levels. Events are well organised and often held in beautiful historic or landmark venues around the country, making it a family friendly and inclusive event for all.

What does it involve?

  • Distances vary, but a sprint triathlon is typically a 750m (0.46 mile) swim, a 20km (12.5 mile) bike ride and a 5km (3.1 mile) run. The swim can either take place in a pool or open water/lake.

  • An Olympic distance triathlon is 1.5km (0.9 mile) swim, 42km (25 mile) bike ride and 10km (6.2 mile) run.

Swim, Bike, Run, Repeat . . .

As with any competition, preparation and training is key and a safe, progressive plan tailored to your personal ability level should be set well ahead of an event to maximise success.

Most triathlon competitors and clubs will report that the part most people struggle with is swimming. The simple reason is that swimming is the most technical of all three disciplines and unless you are already a swimmer or trained as a competitive swimmer as a child, mastering the correct technique can be difficult. Water is also the more ‘unknown’ element, especially if the swim takes place in open water or lakes. Fear of swimming in a large group, decreased visibility or just swimming the distance without stopping can make even Olympic level runners or cyclists think twice about taking the plunge!

Aqualife’s top tips to tri

1. Perfecting your stroke technique. Work with an experienced swim coach who will analyse your stroke and work with you to improve technique and build stamina. Front crawl is the main stroke used for triathlons, but it is also important to have strong survival skills such as treading water and rotation to ensure safety and give confidence whilst in the water. Competitors will be aiming to comfortably swim the whole distance without stopping and if undertaking an open water swim then the pool training distance will need to be increased to take into consideration external elements such as temperature, wind, current and visibility.

2. Bilateral Breathing. Having the ability to breathe bilaterally (able to breathe comfortably on either side) in the front crawl stroke is an important skill to master especially before undertaking open water swims. This skill will help you become a more balanced swimmer, gives a smoother stroke technique and develops uniform muscle when training. Bilateral breathing also helps swimmers to become calmer and more efficient in the water as it enables comfortable breathing on either side. It also helps to avoid splashing from other competitors, waves, wind and enables you to keep the shore line in sight.

3. Turning and sighting for open water. Swimmers can spend hours in the pool practicing perfect strokes and building stamina but if you are planning an open water event then it will be important to learn how to turn in the water and lift your head to sight so you can follow marker buoys and stay on course. These skills can easily be introduced in the pool and then practiced in open water once confident.

4. Swimming in a group. In competitions lots of people all swimming together can come as quite a shock and invasion of space. Swimming as part of a group in a pool environment is a good introduction to swimming alongside similar level swimmers and learning how to pace yourself – as well as being good fun to train alongside like minded people!

Tri Something New

Having a goal or setting yourself a challenge is a great way to try something new rather than dreaming or wondering what it would be like.

If the idea of a full triathlon may be too overwhelming, then start slowly and dedicate a period of time to improving perhaps one discipline first. Training with friends or family can also help to motivate and inspire you to take on a challenge that will push you out of your comfort zone.

Life whizzes past in the blink of an eye, there is no time like the present to set yourself a goal and give it 100 per cent – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Find out more about triathlons in the UK by visiting and

The Aqualife team have a wide range of experience from open water, triathlon and competitive swimming, to stamina and technique improvement and can offer 121 or group training sessions for all ages and abilities.

Please do give us a call for a chat and see how we can help you on your next challenge!

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