Coaching the triathlon swim – Building confident & powerful open water swimmers – 5 USAT CEUs

2-day clinic for USAT Coaches looking to develop a comprehensive tool kit for developing open water swimmers for triathlon and open water swimming events. After completing this course, coaches are ready to bring their team’s swimmers to the beach or lake and lead them in open water skills & training.

  • Day 1: Coaches learn the key skills they must be able to teach in both the pool & in the open water. Coaches also gain insight from lifeguards and coaches on best practices to manage athlete safety & athlete anxiety, and learn to develop effective open water training sessions.
  • Day 2: Coaches practice what they have learned by working directly with athletes in open water conditions . Coaches will form co-teaching teams and interact with groups of athletes from the local NYC area.

This clinic is set in iconic Coney Island, NY, classroom sessions will be held at the New York Aquarium.

Act quickly to obtain favorable pricing for this exclusive open water coaching development program.

Course Details

$600* – Early bird price – register by 6/20

$750* – Standard price


  • 2 days
  • Start: July 17, 2021 8:00 AM
  • End: July 18, 2021 3:00 PM


  • Coney Island (Open water sessions)
  • New York Aquarium (Classroom sessions)

Course Content:

  • Open water safety and best practices
  • Race strategy of elites and age groupers
  • Planning open water training sessions
  • Open water comfort and acclimatization
  • Teaching the skills – sighting, exits, entries, turns, & drafting
  • Teaching straight swimming – common flaws & stroke correction
  • Swim specific strength and flexibility
  • Pool and open water-based drills & workouts to prepare for races
  • Practice teaching techniques live with local triathletes
  • How to create your own clinic and have it sanctioned through USAT

Course Agenda:

Day 1:

Best techniques and strategy, & common mistakes.

  • Pro/elite race drafting, sighting, strategy
  • Age group race video, surface level and overhead
  • Pacing and how it affects your bike/run

Athlete Safety:

  • Safety issues, dangers we’ve encountered, planning for the safety of others.
  • Planning for varying conditions – fog, rain, waves, cold
  • Lifeguard Presentation: How to address open water safety, what to look/plan for, how his/her guards train
  • Working with athletes: Addressing safety, nervousness, goals, skills with a group
  • Open water equipment

Coaches (open water) practical:

  • Dryland warm-up and flexibility
  • In-water warm-up, swim opener
  • Swim straight demo & common mistakes
  • Sighting & dead reckoning 
  • Drafting & pack swimming
  • Buoy turn techniques
  • In water & beach starts & exits

Individual considerations:

  • Fear, lack of skill, inflexibility (physical & mental), overconfidence, negative experiences, limited/no open water available
  • Kids vs adults
  • Tracking your swimmers

Freestyle: how the stroke works, basics of how to teach

  • Creating propulsion
  • Reducing drag
  • Basics of stroke evaluation
  • Basic drills & progressions

Writing workouts:

  • Pool sets and testing
  • Open water workouts

Evening Team Homework Assignment:

  • Develop lesson plan for Day 2

Day 2:

Team lesson plan reviews

  • Lesson walkthrough & feedback

Coaches (Open Water) team teaching practical

  • Team teaching exercise using developed lesson plans
  • Local athletes will attend

Lesson debrief

  • Learnings & feedback

Risk management

  • USAT Clinic sanctioning procedure
  • Liability Waivers

Wrap up

  • Discuss projects you’ve considered or want to take on
  • Course evaluation


  • A light box lunch will be provided each day
  • Attendees should be bring their own snacks & drinks for open water sessions

Instructor Bios:

Head Coach – Peter Helling has coached beginning, intermediate, and advanced age group athletes for over 15 years at all triathlon distances. He employs a friendly, supportive, and guiding coaching style allowing each athlete to develop at their own pace. Athlete learning is at the center of Peter’s approach.

Peter began coaching as a swim coach and head coach for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program in 2006 before starting his own coaching practice in 2010.

Today athletes under his care and development often compete at national and world championship level competitions. The team is a home for beginners to grow, stronger athletes to continue to develop, and everyone to enjoy a community of support and recognition.

In addition, Peter has developed cyclists for brevet and distance mountain bike events, runners for marathon and half marathon PR’s, and swimmers for 10K and 5K open water competitions.

Coaching Certifications:
  • Ironman certified coach
  • USA Triathlon level 2 long course coach
  • USA Triathlon level 2 short course coach
  • USA Triathlon level 2 Paratriathlon coach
  • USA Triathlon level 1 Youth & junior coach
  • USA Cycling level 2 coach w/ distinction
  • USA Cycling certified skills instructor
  • USA Cycling power training certified coach
  • USA Swimming coach

Head Coach – John Stewart is a USA Triathlon Level 2 Certified Coach, and Head Women’s Triathlon Coach for Wagner College (DI). He is a USA Swimming Coach Member and US Masters Swimming Level III Coach. His USA Swimming club, the Brooklyn Stingrays, trains competitive swimmers ages 6-18yrs.

John has competed in triathlons from Sprints to Ironmans, and has enjoyed events such as the Texas Time Trials, 24hr MTB relays, the NYC Marathon, and swimming the English Channel. John is the Head Coach and owner of Race Day Coaching and has developed triathletes at national and world championship levels.

John & Peter have been friends and collaborators for many years. Both are team coaches for the Brooklyn Triathlon Club. They can be found at Brighton Beach & Coney Island, NY throughout the summer.

Note: *An additional $15 USAT waiver fee will be assessed for NON USAT members. In addition, a credit card processing fee of $20 will also be assessed. Accommodation, and other associated travel costs are not included in the fee for this education program. No refunds are available for this program.

Note: The safety of all athletes, coaches, and staff is of paramount concern as we collectively face the health and safety risks of COVID-19. All Startline Coaching programs follow USA Triathlon Safe Return to Multisport Guidelines and Return to Racing Recommendations for Race Directors and the directives issued by federal, state and local authorities. All athletes, coaches, & staff engaged in Startline Coaching programs are expected to follow the USA Triathlon Return to Racing recommendations for Athletes as well as Startline Coaching Return to Training Safety Code of Conduct.

Note: As of Oct 1, 2021, and without exception, all participants in Startline Coaching programs must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attendance at any and all in-person Startline Coaching training or clinic sessions.

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