Backstroke in a Triathlon

Triathlon Event  I can’t swim and put my head underwater. I read a few articles on your website about first time TriathaNewbie’s doing the backstroke. Is there any sort of advice that you could give in terms of doing a 500Meter (Sprint Distance) backstroke?

Bill from California

Triathlon Event  Hi Bill,
Thank you for contacting!

If you are swimming in a pool with lane lines, we would give you the thumbs up and an “atta boy!” But if the swim is outdoors with a group of people, we suggest that you spend some time training properly for the event before you decide to participate. If the articles you read involved swimmers swimming backstroke, we’re pretty sure they were writing to us after competing in a triathlon and not before. We would be giving them the same advice as we are about to give you as to why backstroke is a bad idea in outdoor, group competitions.

  1. It is unsafe to enter a triathlon if you cannot swim. Being able to put your head underwater is included with knowing how to swim. You put yourself, other participants and the lifeguards at risk.

  2. It is unsafe to swim with others when you are not looking in the direction in which you are swimming. You risk injuring them or yourself.

  3. It is respectful to the sport (participants, race organizers and sport integrity) to come prepared, which means training properly for all 3 of the legs that make up a triathlon.

Please know that the words above do not mean that you can’t learn to swim and can’t participate in a triathlon. We just don’t think you should until you are fully prepared. Here are a few ways a beginner triathlete can learn to swim:

  1. Attend an adult swim class at your local YMCA or Community Center.
  2. Hire a coach to help you correct your stroke.
  3. Check out the Total Immersion book and DVD: Triathlon Swimming Made Easy: The Total Immersion Way for Anyone to Master Open-Water Swimming. We’ve used it and it’s amazing.

Learning to swim can be difficult and scary. But once you understand how to swim properly, we promise that you’ll feel much more comfortable swimming freestyle (crawl) and competing. We wish you the best of luck.

Be well.
~Jack Staff Recommended Resources:


Triathlon Swim : – Get the low-down on gear and read tips for training and events.

Triathlon Bike: – Learn how to structure bike workouts, find safety tips and read recommendations on great bike gear.

Triathlon Run : – Get the ultimate skinny on running sneakers, running gear, safety tips and much more.

“Triathlete Profile
Read interviews of people like YOU who give advice on training, balance and much more.

There are Newbies Starting Triathlons Every Day. Today Just Happens to be YOUR Day!