Improve your swimming with Bolton Tri


Bolton Tri Club provides organised swim sessions supported by qualified coaches catering for experienced triathletes and swimmers but also for novices. Front crawl is the fastest and most efficient stroke so senior sessions are mostly but not entirely front crawl. The coaching team mainly use the Swim Smooth method (see below). If you can swim but can’t do front crawl or you find it difficult then we have some sessions where we cater for front crawl beginners. We have 5 senior swim sessions a week taking place at Farnworth, Horwich, Bolton One and Turton leisure centres.


We have two junior sessions a week at Farnworth Leisure centre and Smithills Sports Centre. In junior sessions we try to develop swimmers so they can do all four strokes. The variety makes training more interesting for children and makes them better swimmers in the long run. The minimum age is 7 and because sessions take place in lanes in a 25m pool they must be able to swim 100m using any stroke. We have three ability groups at the Farnworth session on Saturdays – L plates, Improvers and Advanced. This session runs all year round. The Smithills session on Thursdays is for the Improvers and Advanced groups – it does not run during school summer holidays. Young people aged 14 + can also take part in senior sessions if they wish.

If you have never swam in a lane in a coached session you will need to know some basic lane etiquette which is explained below

Open Water Swimming

Between May and July 2023 we organised open water swimming at Elton Sailing Club in Bury on Tuesdays between 5 and 8pm. This was open to non members as well. Booking is required. Full information is at

The Swim Smooth method

The coaching team mainly use the ‘Swim Smooth’ method. This is a highly regarded method developed over more than a decade in Australia and it has been adopted by British Triathlon’s Coach Education programme.

Swim Smooth focuses on three things

• Training – designed to improve your endurance over distances of 400m or more
• Technique – developing an efficient swim technique
• Open Water Skills – preparing you to swim in open water events and triathlons

To improve your speed and endurance it is important to know your ‘threshold swim speed’ also called Critical Swim Speed or CSS. The is the average time per 100m that you can maintain on a 1500m swim. A simple CSS test (a 400m and a 200m time trial) can be used to calculate your basic CSS.

Paul Newsome explains the method in this video and how to use CSS in training to improve your threshold pace is explained in this blog. In our sessions we try to ensure that swimmers in each lane have similar CSS paces so everyone gets the maximum benefit from the session

Booking a session

We now use ClubSpark for session booking which requires a payment on booking. The link is below, each session comes up for booking 7 days in advance. Click on the training tab and scroll down to see available sessions

ClubSpark link

If you are interested in joining but want to try a session first please contact or a committee member and we will book you in for an introductory session. To continue after that you will need to join the club and book your own sessions. To join click on the ‘membership’ tab on ClubSpark.

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Lane Etiquette

• Make sure you know the direction of swimming in your lane, clockwise or anti-clockwise. Ask the coach if you are not sure.

• Set off with a 5 second gap between you and the swimmer in front.

• Do not swim on the toes of the person in front of you.

• If you are swimming faster than the person on front, tap their feet to let them know. If someone taps your feet stop at the end of the lane to let them pass.

• Use the pace clock to work out when to set off on each rep.

• When you finish your interval move to the side of the lane so that the swimmer behind can finish at the wall.

• Please don’t be offended if a coach moves you up or down a lane. They need to manage the lanes so everyone can get the most out of the session.

• The other swimmers in the lane are your training buddies. Be helpful and encourage each other.

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Step out of your comfort zone.

What are you, what do you class yourself as? A runner, a cyclist or a swimmer? Why dont you step out of your comfort zone and try one of our other specialist sports? We are a growing, friendly, fun club which aims to help all our members enjoy swimming, cycling and running. Have you tried these other options?

Beginners, young and old, are catered for alongside more experienced triathletes of all standards. Sessions every day of the week throughout the year with guidance and encouragement from our qualified coaches. Training with others is a good way to get motivated, learn about the sport and make new friends and training partners. If you need to improve or learn front crawl, get used to open-water swimming or find out how to plan your training we can help.