Conquering the Ironman Triathlon open-water swim

What time could be better than the beginning of the New Year to work on your swim stroke and develop the skill and confidence necessary for conquering the Ironman Triathlon open water swim.

Here we are almost a week after the predicted end of the world and seeings how we dodged the bullet of total annihilation perhaps it’s time to get started on your new, improved swim stroke.

When you have a second chance at taking on that first triathlon or perhaps a run at the Ironman finish line you might as well make the most of it.

This page is directed at those who are struggling with the concept of open water swimming and see it as an insurmountable stumbling block in their quest for the Ironman finish line.

ironman triathlon making and impossible journey possible

Learn how to conquer your anxiety about the Ironman swim.


It is only natural to fear the open water because we are land-dwellers by nature and the moment we get in water over our head and lose contact with the ground we are in foreign territory and it can be a scary thing.

We learn to craw, walk, and run naturally but swimming is something that some people never master because it just seems so awkward and unnatural.

When you add two or three thousand other swimmers into the mix on Ironman day it just seems impossible to imagine yourself out there and for many people it is the end of their dream of crossing the Ironman finish line.

The reality is that you can be an awesome cyclist and experienced marathoner, but until you find a way to navigate 2.4-miles in the open water it won’t matter a damn how well you can bike and run.


The very fact that a person is unsure, uncomfortable, or afraid of the open water works against them before they even get started.

It’s important to relax in the water instead of fighting it and simply trying to survive. Being tense is the exact opposite of what the novice open water swimmer should strive for.

When you relax you will glide through the water much more easily and it will not be nearly so difficult to refine your stroke and become more comfortable in the water. This in turn will help you conserve energy.

Saving as much energy as possible in the swim is crucial when it comes to the Ironman because the energy you save in the swim will benefit your bike and run.

At first it might seem impossible to imagine yourself swimming 2-4-miles but swimming is a learned skill and once you figure out how to develop a long, smooth, energy-saving basic front-crawl stroke it’s just a matter of building up your swim endurance over time.

As your endurance increases your confidence will grow right along with it.

Many people training for an Ironman swim focus way too much on how fast they swim when speed is the last thing you have to worry about.

All you have to do is finish the swim under the swim cut-off time(which is normally 2:20). Trying to shave two or three minutes off your swim time in not nearly as important as using as little energy as possible.

The key is to learn an energy-saving stroke.

In fact learning how to relax and using as little energy as possible with every swim stroke are the main keys to mastering the Ironman open-water swim.


For years I basically bashed my way through the water in Ironman race after Ironman race.

Like many people taking on the Ironman Triathlon for the first time I could not swim a stroke before I decided I wanted to cross the Ironman Hawaii finish line back in 1984. As a matter of fact, race-day of my first Ironman was the first time I had ever swam 2.4-miles in the open water.

I had an awful energy-burning stroke and in the early years of my Ironman career used to dread the swim and saw it as a necessary evil if I wanted to reach the Ironman finish line. I always felt exhausted by the time I finished the swim.

It wasn’t until someone handed me a copy of Total Immersion and suggested I give it this swim technique a try that my swimming improved. It not only improved my swim technique by making it more efficient, it took away all my fear of the Ironman Triathlon swim and I actually began to enjoy the swim leg of the race.

What Total Immersion does is break down your stroke and help you re-develop an amazing long and smooth swim stroke. If you can’t swim at all it can actually work in your favor because you do not have to try and unlearn an inefficient swim-stroke that is ingrained in your muscle memory.

That’s what I had to do. I had to concentrate on not slipping back into my old ways, but after a while the proper technique just took over and it changed the way I looked at the Ironman swim forever.

I remember how shocked I was the first day I used the Total Immersion system and almost right away understood what I had been doing wrong for years.

The swim/bike transition wet-suit strippers in action

I went from about 24 strokes for a 25-meter length to 18 strokes in one day. I could actually feel my heels come out of the water behind me instead of sinking and creating so much drag and causing so much extra work.

Just imagine the difference it you took that longer, smoother stroke into the race. It was a huge difference when every 25 meters I did in the Ironman swim I was using 6 less strokes. Over 2.4-miles you can see how that would save so much energy.

I began to look forward to the Ironman swim instead of fearing it.

Total Immersion can help you as well. Terry Laughin who created the Total Immersion swim technique has been kind enough to offer visitors to Ironstruck a discount on his books or tapes and other products that will give you the necessary ingredients to become a confident and proficient open-water swimmer.



TOTAL IMMERSION is offering all IronStruck visitors a 10% discount on Books, DVD’s, and all other Total Immersion teaching tools.

Simply click on TOTAL IMMERSION go to their store page. Use the Coupon Code “ironstruck” (all small case letters) into the shopping cart coupon box and you will automatically receive your 10% discount!

Your speed will develop naturally as you become more proficient with the swim stroke. When you do the Total Immersion drills and put the stroke methods into practice you are getting fitter and fitter with each passing day and you will be amazed at how well and how fast you will eventually swim.

Best of all, you will look forward to the Ironman swim instead of dreading it.

This entry was posted in Swim, Uncategorized by Ray. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ray

Ray hasn’t stopped since his first Ironman in Kona, 1984. He has since run 14 more Ironman races, authored 5 Triathlon books, and is now bringing together a passionate community of triathletes. Contact Ray at

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