The Excuse: I’m not a good swimmer.
The Answer: While you may not enjoy the thought of donning a wetsuit and slipping into a murky body of water with a group of strangers, swimming is actually the easiest part of a triathlon to improve upon. Just ask elite amateur Beth Shutt, of Natrona Heights, Pa. Until she started triathlons five years ago, her idea of swimming was playing Marco Polo in her parents’ pool. In one of her first races, she was last out of the water. Today she’s among the faster swimmers in her age group. “It definitely took a lot of effort, but I was determined not to let my swim be a glaring weakness,” says Shutt. “To become a better swimmer, it’s a matter of putting in the work and seeing the progression.”
The Approach: Start where you are, says Stock. If you have little swim experience, enlist the help of a swim instructor to get the basics down. “Many Masters groups cater to triathletes and offer technique tips as well as challenging workouts in a group environment,” she says. Even more important? Remind yourself that swimming is the shortest part of any triathlon. So if your strokes are sluggish, at least you won’t be doing it for long.
Try This: After joining a Masters team, enter yourself in a swim meet. “Being competitive in the pool really helped me learn to enjoy swimming,” Shutt says.