Tammy Martin my first half ironman and aquabike rookie mistakes

What is an Aquabike Race?

You may have recently heard the term “Aquabike event” or “Aquabike race” or even “Aquabike triathlon” and had absolutly no clue if you what you were hearing was English or not. I guarantee you that it does not involve riding bikes in the water.  It is not a spin bike in the water or a bike with pontoons above the water.   Although, since embarking on my Aquabike multi-sport adventure, I have come to realise that such things also exist.

Spin pool bike or
Not the type of Aquabike that I am talking about here!

So again, you may ask, What is an Aquabike race?

An Aquabike race is a swim bike race.  It is essentially a triathlon that has been reduced by a 3rd, by eliminating the running part from the race.  In fact, most Aquabike events take place alongside triathlon events.  Registrants simply sign up for the Aquabike event, then swim and bike their race alongside the triathletes.  The only difference is that the aquabikeathletes (my term, I haven’t seen it anywhere online yet!)  get to head to the pub while the runners strap on their running shoes and keep going.

Who is an Aquabike race for?

Quite simply an Aquabike race is for people who don’t want to do the running part of a triathlon.  I spoke to many of my co-competitiors on my recent attempt at the Rottnest Sufferfest Half Ironman Aquabike and got a lot of answers as to why the swimming and biking competition appealed to them.

  • One gentleman said that he was saving his legs.
  • A woman about my age said that she used to do triathlons but then her knee started being unhappy with her.  She still wanted to stay in the game, so she switched to the Aquabike events.
  • Another younger woman in her 30s said that she just loves Aquabike racing.
  • I jumped on board because I’ve always wanted to try swim bike races.  It just took a while for the multi-sport world to catch up with my vision and organise them!

What are some other appealing reasons to compete in Aquabike?

Use it as an entry level event to introduce yourself to multi-sport endeavours. Aquabike events may be a perfect way for you to get started if you…

  • have spine or joint discomforts that make running difficult.
  • are older
  • have been fairly sedentary recently
  • need to significantly build up your strength and cardiovascular conditioning
  • running holds about as much appeal for you as licking postage stamps.

Initially training for an Aquabike event, rather than a full triathlon, will help you progress into your fitness a lot easier than if you suddenly slam your body with strength training, swimming, biking AND running all at once.  The best approach is to progressively build up your training so that your body has time to adapt, get stronger and become more fit.

Our bodies are human!  Take it gently.  If you are just starting out, your body is going to reveal ailments and uncomfortable niggles that you will need to listen to and address.  If you haven’t been very fit for a while you will have a laundry list of things that will come out in the wash as far as getting your body moving, active and fit again.

Don’t let that prevent you from starting,

Just start and train smart.


I am also a movement coach/ personal trainer.  It makes a whole lot of sense to me to leave out the running until you give your body and your mindset some time to progress through the training and sort out some of the newbie growing pains first.

Don’t worry, be patient.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Take your time, train consistently and thoughtfully, and you will better protect yourself against injury. You WILL get stronger, faster, more fit and more confident.  Eventually, and not too long into the future, you will be able to add running training so you can enter that triathlon, if you want and if it is right for you.


You may just find that you love being an Aquabikeathlete so much that you never stop!

How long is an Aquabike event?

Aquabike race distances can vary quite a bit, so chances are you will be able to find a distance that suits your performance goals.  Some examples of race distances (swim + bike) provided in metric and imperial measurements.

Swim (meters) Bike (km) Swim (miles) Bike (miles)
300   + 14.5 0.2  + 9
400   + 19.5 0.24 + 12
750    + 20 0.5  + 12.4
1500  + 30 .93   + 18.6
2000  + 60 1.24  + 37
2000  + 80 1.24  + 56

How and when did Aquabike races become a multi-sport event?

According to USA Triathlon, Aquabike events began as a trial pilot program in 2005. In 2010, the organization started offering rankings of Aquabike athletes. As early as 2012, there were over 3000 U.S. athletes ranked as Aquabike athletes. To earn an official Aquabike ranking, you at least have to compete in 2 sanctioned Aquabike events in a calendar year.  There are also some other performance requirements that I will research in the near future. I did a cursory search of current rankings at USA Triathlon and found that here at the end of 2018 there are 56 females aged 40-44, 72 aged 45-49 and 106 females aged 50-54 ranked in Aquabike.  Not a bad representation for the ladies!

How do you find an Aquabike event?

Aquabike events are typically scheduled to coincide with triathlons in most countries. I live in Perth, Western Australia.

In Australia, you can find some information at Triathlon Australia. However, the best online source that I have found for easy reference to Western Australia Aquabike events is running calendar.com.au

In the USAUSA Triathlon has quite a bit of information on Aquabike events and how the multisport originated.

For any location, You can also google “aquabike events + your area”  You may have to sift through some sights that involve bikes in the water, but hopefully not.


Moving Forwards

I hope that this post gets you sufficiently motivated to…

  1. Start planning your next Aquabike adventure &
  2. Start moving your body and training
  3. Before you embark on your first Aquabike race, read my post “My First Half Ironman Aquabike and Rookie Mistakes.”


The key is to take immediate action on your new motivation.  Don’t just let it wane away.  Write your new goals and intentions down in your journal so you remember them and can easily remind yourself later.


Share the love

Leave me a comment if you would like a little guidance. I’d love to help.

For the ladies, you can also stay in touch by submitting a request to join my closed Facebook group for women at my LEAP n2u Fitness – “Fitness and lifestyle mojo for women over 40.”

I hope to see you there!


  1. That’s a great alternative indeed.  Aquabike, I too first thought of something like jetski or alike lol.  Now I would much more like to do swimming and biking myself.  I’m not a good runner and never was.  In soccer, I’m always the goal keeper because I don’t like running a lot.  Bicycling and mostly swimming though are some of my favorite sports.  Especially swimming, I just love being in the water.

    1. Thank you Stefan!

  2. Very interesting topic…Aquabike racing.  I would have never connected that to being 2/3 of a triathalon.  That is awesome!  So many people can benefit from participating in aquabiking instead of including the running portion…myself included 😉  Eventhough I love running, my shins do not 🙁  This is definitely something I am going to look further into for my personal fitness goals. Thanks for the info!

    1. That’s exciting to hear MissChriss!  I feel the same way.  Aquabike opens up the opportunity for athletes who want to avoid running for whatever reasons to compete in multisport.  Since most of the events are coordinated triathlons, they are pretty easy to find too.  

      As far as your shins go, I have 2 questions; how is your foot mobility and have you heard of myofascial movement therapy and releases?

      Cheers, Tammy

  3. I never heard about Aquabike race. I learned from your article that Aquabike is a swim and bike combination race and is especially for physically disable people basically.

    If somebody wants to learn Aquabike how long you think it will take for a new bee to become a perfect Aquabike racer?

    Very informative article about a new sport, thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Bushra, 

      Thank you very much for your comments.  To clarify, Aquabike racing is a great multi-sport opportunity for anyone who chooses not to run for any variety of reasons.  An athlete may choose not to run because of personal preferences or because engaging in extensive running is not right for their unique body.  For instance, I can potentially suffer from low back pain when I do a lot of running; especially on pavement or when I progress any running training too quickly.  On the other hand, my back is fine with swimming and bike training.  

      How long it takes to prepare for a race depends on a few variables.  For instance; the overall distance of the race, the individual’s level of fitness when beginning training and their overall comfort and confidence with swimming in a pool and open water, and bicycling.  




    Hey Tammy, how are you?

    OMG, I think that you just found a solution for my lack of exercises. I am a person that avoids all species of exercise or sports.  I have never heard about Aquabike before.  I am fascinated with the Triathlon but I always stay away because of the running part.  What I see here is that Aquabike can make us lose the undesirable fatness and put us in shape.  In your opinion do you think that Aquabike will be part of one of the future sports of Olympics someday near to the future? I hope so very much.

    Thank you so much for such good, instructive and new information you have brought to us.  Cheers to your success,


    1. Hi Telma, 

      I am glad to hear your excitement about Aquabike racing.  Yes, if you engage in Aquabike training, you will feel stronger, more physically confident and it will help you shed unwanted fat.  Committing to a race will also help provide extra motivation and drive to stick with your training and exercise program.  Consistency is the key.

      I’m not sure about the olympics, but there are Aquabike World Championships.



  5. Aquabiking sounds like my kind of cardio workout since I do not like running so much. As far as aquabike racing, is there a sort of training regimen that one needs to follow in order to prepare for an aqua bike race? Like do you need to aquabike a certain amount of miles for a month or two? 

    Also, are there nutritional requirements that aqua bikers need to follow to be prepared for a race? Are they similar to the nutritional requirements of a marathon runner or triathlon athlete. 

    1. Hi Jessie, 

      Thank you for stopping by and for your questions.  

      Training for an Aquabike race certainly involves swimming and bike training as well as strength training. It also helps to be well versed in rest and recovery methods that aid your body’s growth and repair in between sessions.  Exactly how much training is needed depends on the overall distance of the race and the competitor’s current level of fitness and their competence level with swimming and bicycling.  

      I am not a nutritionist, so I won’t recommend any specific kind of diet.  I will strongly recommend a nutrition plan that includes whole natural foods from a variety of plant sources.  Make sure you get ample protein and essential vitamins, minerals and fats to promote growth and repair.  Limit any intake of processed foods that contain added sugars and refined carbohydrates. 

      Best of luck to you,


  6. Wow, I had absolutely no idea that Aquabike race doesn’t involve riding bikes in the water. It seemed so obvious that it should, but it doesn’t.

    All in all I totally get the idea of the sport. It’s actually really refreshing and invigorating to know that it’s not mandatory to be a runner to compete in such a multi-discipline sport event. I know way too many people who have stayed shy of triathlon just because of the running part.

    It might be though that the Aquabike races are not yet available in my country at all. We’ll have to look into it. Nonetheless, I will forward this to the guys I mentioned.

    Other than that I loved all the other insights as well. 

    Cheers and have a Great One!


    1. Hi Matiss,  Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments.  Just curious, where do you live?


  7. This event is more intriguing as I learn more about it! I am/have been an avid swimmer/cyclist/runner – but I have been developing intense issues with my right hip. My physician & I agree that my running days are more or less over – But, I can still swim and cycle – so this is a great option for me to still compete and stay in shape. I need to learn more about this!! – Atlanta, GA

    1. I’m sorry to hear that issues with your right hip are limiting your running. I hope you get the issues resolved so that you aren’t in any long term discomfort. As you say, Aquabike is a really fun and intriguing event. It opens a door into multisport for those of us who can’t or don’t want to run!
      I’d love to hear how you’ve tracked on. Have you found an event yet?

    1. You’re welcome,

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