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by Kris Goodrich

February 8, 2021

Tips for keeping fit with a partner if you can’t train with your club

The past year has been difficult for many swimmers. With pool shutdowns and local pandemic restrictions, most haven’t had the opportunity to swim at their regular club workouts, meaning they’ve missed out on the team atmosphere with bantering back and forth across the lanes, feedback from a coach on deck, and the competitiveness of multiple athletes working together to complete a hard set.

Some swimmers are fortunate enough to continue swimming under COVID restrictions, but often alone, as group activities have been curtailed in many places. Swimming solo can be Zen, with time to reflect, enjoy the water, and work on technique. But most swimmers won’t push themselves when they swim alone, either in total distance or working hard within a set, so often a workout isn’t quite as challenging.

Meeting up with a training partner could be a great way to keep swimming if you’re facing group workout restrictions. A training partner will push you in different ways in the pool, sometimes physically and sometimes mentally. You’ll each get a great workout as you to step out of your comfort zones to accommodate each other’s needs.

Here are some benefits of training with a partner and tips for success in making the partnership work for both of you.

  • The best of both worlds. Since there are two of you, you get some of the camaraderie of the team. Similar to a solo workout, however, you each have a vote in planning what you’re going to swim that day. It’s the perfect combination of team workouts and solo swimming
  • Variety. When you’re training with a partner, that person’s goals and strengths are often different than yours. Your workouts will be a mix of what each of you would like to swim, which means variety and challenges for you both.
  • Be flexible. Your intervals may not always be the same, and sometimes you’ll get a lot of rest or, if you’re swimming with a much faster swimmer, it may be touch and go for you. Plan sets knowing that one of you might be swimming 200s and the other 150s, but you’ll both get a great workout in the same amount of time.
  • Don’t be afraid to use toys. If your training partner has a great kick and you don’t, use fins on that set. When pulling, fingertip paddles are a great option for the stronger swimmer while the other uses full-size paddles. Instead of thinking of fins or paddles as a crutch, think of them as tools to even out the disparity between the strengths and weaknesses of each training partner.
  • Learn and share. When you swim with someone with more experience, you’ll swim better and learn new skills. If your training partner has amazing turns, make it your goal to try getting off the wall just like she does. If you’re the partner with more experience, slow down and share your knowledge. Help your partner with technique, how to pace a hard set, streamlines, etc. The more you work together, the more each of you gets out of your workout.
  • Mental mettle. Training partners bring different mental strategies to a workout. Triathletes are great partners to swim with because they’re amazing in their determination. Since they typically train long and hard, their encouragement and perseverance at the end of a set, 10 x 200s for example, can push you harder than normal. Other partners might need your encouragement to finish a set, and you might find that rallying them to work harder switches your focus off how hard it is for you. Whichever side of the equation you’re on, it’s a win-win.

Each of your training partners will bring something different to your workouts and your life. The best thing about training partners is they often become close friends. They know if you’re having a bad day and need a friend. If you’re tired physically they’ll push you to go harder but understand it if you need an easy day. If you can’t get to the pool, a hike, bike, run or even Zoom workout can keep you connected. Training partners can help keep you physically and mentally healthy in a time when we all need both.

So, find a partner, reserve a lane, and jump in the pool for a great workout!


  • Technique and Training


  • Training