helping you meet your swimming goals

  • WHO I AM

    Kirsten Read | Competitive Swimmer | Certified Coach

    Swim Coach Kirsten Read Triathlon Training Clinics Private

    Kirsten Read

    USMS Levels 1 & 2 Certified Masters Coach

    I grew up age group swimming in western MA, eventually won HS state championships in 3 events as a sophomore and went on to swim and row at Brown University. I am now an avid open water swimmer.


    I have an M. Ed. and am a certified masters swim coach.
    I am excited about sharing my 20 years of open water expertise with anyone who would like to learn how to unlock their potential for swimming smarter and faster.

    I live in Kennebunk, Maine and swim for Maine Masters. I have won such races as Peaks to Portland and the Nubble Light Challenge.





    Nubble Light Challenge ME 2.4 mile - 2nd woman (no wetsuit)



    Nubble Light Challenge ME 2.4 mile - 1st woman (wetsuit)



    Shoulder Surgery & Pandemic



    Bermuda Round the Sound

    Cork, Ireland Distance Week



    Bermuda Round the Sound 10k - 1st woman 40-59/8th OA

    Casco Bay Islands SwimRun - (SC) 7th OA, 2nd women's team

    Peaks to Portland ME 2.4 mi - 2nd woman



    Casco Bay Islands SwimRun - 10 mi Run|4 mi Swim
    Peaks to Portland ME 2.4 mi - 2nd woman



    Bermuda Round the Sound 10k - 1st woman 40-59
    Swim for Life Provincetown - 1st woman, 2nd OA
    Sebago Lake 10-mile Crossing
    Misery Challenge 3 mile - 1st woman
    Kingdom Swim 6 mile - 1st woman (skin)
    Mashpee Super Swim 3 mile - 3rd woman



    FINA World Masters Champ Montreal - 3k OW - 4th 45-49

    USMS Lake Placid 2 mi Cable National Champ- 2nd 45-49


    Peaks to Portland ME 2.4 mile - 1st woman

    Nubble Light Challenge ME 2.4 mile - 1st woman

    Sharkfest Boston MA 1500 meter - 1st woman (tie)


    Bermuda Round the Sound 2k - 1st woman


    (shoulder surgery)


    2009-2010 FINA World Top 10 800, 1500 free
    NE Record, 800, 1500, 1650 free 40-44

    US Top 10 One Hour Postal Swim - 4830 yards

    Save the Bay RI 1.7 mile - 2nd woman

    Nubble Light Challenge ME 2.4 mile - 2nd woman


    Other Top Finishes

    Landshark Amesbury MA

    Great Chesapeake Bay Swim VA 4.4m

    Kingdom Swim VT 5k

    Salem MA Swim & Fin 1m, 3m Salem MA

    Wild Fish 1m 2 Bridges NY 2.5k

    Big Shoulders Chicago IL 5k

    Bermuda Round the Sound 2k, 4k, 7.5k

    Wayland MA 3m Merrimack River Lowell MA 2m

    KBIA Cove Kennebunk ME 1m

    Against the Tide Hopkinton MA 1m










    60 MINUTES -- $125*

    45 MINUTES -- $100*( AT WB ONLY)

    30 MINUTES -- $75* ( AT WB ONLY)

    *plus any applicable lane rental rates ($15 for Westbrook/$22 for UNE)

    At least 24 hours' notice must be given for cancellations.




    60 MINUTES@2 ppl -- $150* (75 ea)

    60 MINUTES@3 ppl -- $180* (60ea)

    60 MINUTES@4 ppl -- $200* (50ea)

    *plus any applicable lane rental rates ($15 for Westbrook/$22 for UNE) 

    At least 24 hours' notice must be given for cancellations.




    Technique, Pacing & Endurance

    Hourly rate varies from $15-20 per person based on arrangement with pool/# people



    Hourly rate is usually $20 per person






    This is a customized, coached, affordable small-group one-hour workout (3 lanes) for swimmers of similar speed, organized by me. It is a combination of a private session and a macro coached workout -- so you will get a customized workout and technique attention from me and a unique opportunity to use different pacing strategies to work on improving your speed and endurance -- the pace clock, swimmers at your pace, and slightly faster swimmers. Plus, swimming in a group is fun and social!

    EMAIL read(dot)kgirl(@)gmail(dot)com to get on my roster for your pace group or sign up through Cape Elizabeth Community Services for one of those specific sessions.





    Contact me to discuss setting something up in your area with your group or team.

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    for More Effective, Efficient & Effortless Freestyle

    8x25. Rest 10-30 secs between swims (or whatever you need). Swim as effortlessly as

    possible (calm, gentle strokes). Count your strokes and breaths -- objective is to attain the lowest count for each. Here I take 10 strokes and zero breaths and I am not out of breath. (hint: if you know your count is 20, then plan a breath at 5, 10 & 15. Then try a breath at 6 & 12. Once you have mastered that, plan one breath at 10 if you can. NOTE: BREATH HOLDING CAN BE DANGEROUS IF DONE INCORRECTLY. Don’t push yourself to discomfort. If you only get down to 3-4 breaths that is fine.

    Metacognition cues: Tall, Calm, Gentle



    1. Relaxation.  Many swimmers are much too tense.  Don’t fight the water, finesse it.
    2. Ease. You should have more than one ‘gear.’ Have an easy gear (use for active recovery or long distances if you are new to swimming and learning how to pace yourself).
    3. Body Control:  It’s a skill to swim slowly and maintain balance and body control.
    4. Balance:  Without a multitude of breaths you can experience more balanced rotation.







    Lifting just the goggles above the water (without a breath) is a good skill to have in the open water. A swimmer needs to be able to be AWARE at all times to:


    1. Sight on a pre-determined spot or buoy and therefore swim straight

    2. Monitor for water craft

    3. Keep track of swimmers in the pod

    4. Maintain proper distancing (6' to 10' during a pandemic)

    5. Draft (when not distancing during a pandemic)





    -Try to keep just goggles above water line on the sight. Keep mouth in the water if the conditions are calm. If it's choppy you will have to lift your head higher.

    -Don't inhale while you sight -- this is a bad habit and will cause you to swallow water when conditions are rough. You can experiment with exhaling through your nose when looking forward. Make sure it's forceful, like a snort. Make sure you always turn to the side to inhale in the protected pocket.

    -Take a mental snapshot of what you see and get your head right back down. Now you can think about whether what you saw was a confirmation or not while you make forward progress.





    Are you too “dainty?” Some swimmers don’t put enough oomph into the front of the stroke. I call this drill The Boxer because we use a pair of hand paddles in our fists and punch with our core to put some drive into into the entry.


    I like to use a pretty large pair of hand paddles but use whatever you have on hand.



    Use your core - hips, abs, shoulders

    Try to make a splash - points for the most noise

    Punch down slightly - hand below elbow

    Make sure you are extending forward before sweeping back

    Hinge at the elbow and pull with bent arm




    Pause before entry

    Put on the brakes - you may find if you’re too shallow on entry the paddle will flip up and cause a great deal of drag. Punch down ~ 6”!

    Pull with a straight arm - hinge at the elbow and pull with bent arm instead




    Video Analysis FREE when at least 3 Lessons booked with Kirsten.  If just one lesson video $30 extra.

    We will identify key areas needing improvement and appropriate strategies for correction.

    Above Water Video

    What a coach can see from deck:  Basic stroke technique, rotation, entry, catch, timing.

    Underwater Video

    Impossible to see from deck and the most important part of the stroke:  The Pull, coupled with rotation and kick.

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    Side by Side Comps

    Crossing Over? Pulling with straight arm? Not engaging your core? Most people are visual learners and a picture paints a thousand words.

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    The Pull

    Are you pulling with a straight arm or a 90 degree elbow?  Are elbows or wrists dropping?

    First Lesson BEFORE

    Issues with timing, balance, over-rotation, and breathing.

    First Lesson AFTER

    In one hour, this client has mastered the drills given and has gained power, balance, timing and momentum. This result is nothing short of remarkable!

    Kirsten in Open Water

    This video was taken of me in Bermuda. I subsequently wrote a blog post discussing how to stay balanced and stable in less than perfect conditions.


    Reviews: what clients are saying about their experiences working with me

    Kirsten Read is a dynamic swim instructor and coach. Her astonishing career as an open water swimmer and competitive pool champion brings forth her great knowledge and vast experience. Her passion for swimming is undeniable. Kirsten has a remarkable keen-eye in developing efficient stroke techniques for all levels of swimmers. She listens to her swimmers attentively and gives positive feedback on how they can attain their goals. On a personal note, Kirsten has proven that a swimmer is never too old (I’m 70) to improve their technique and swim faster. My swim times have significantly dropped with her method of swim instructions. I would highly recommend Kirsten to all levels of swimmers from beginners to the elite.
    - Pat Gallant-Charette


    It’s amazing the difference I feel now compared to a few months ago. I finished every 5 and 10 minute segment today thinking “I could keep going” even on the ones where I pushed a faster pace. I remember when I started in the pool and I was gasping for air after 50-100 meters. I also feel like I have the tools to self correct on the fly if something goes a little wrong whereas months ago a gulp of water would be the end of me. I’m confident I’ll be able to handle the 1900 meters at my half Ironman now. Look forward to continue growing!

    - Jesse Desper


    You’ve got me thinking again while swimming instead of just hammering away. I’ve been lucky enough to have had some excellent coaches over the years, you are are among the very best.
    - Jim Newton


    I spent years dreading the swim leg of triathlons, of coming out of the water somewhere in the middle of the pack exhausted, dizzy and struggling/wasting time in the transition area. I knew that I had issues with my form and had sought out other coaches in the past without success. I decided to give Kirsten a try after hearing about her from a friend. Kirsten not only quickly assessed areas for improvement - but much more importantly, she showed me methods and ways in which I could correct them. I became better balanced, had better form, and improved my times with less effort. When the triathlon season started up, I went from struggling and coming out in the middle of the swim leg to being consistently in the first quarter of the pack, exiting the water relaxed and more able to quickly get out of the transition area with plenty of energy for the bike. I can state that without her instruction/coaching and resulting time savings I would not have achieved the USA Triathlon All American Age Group ranking for 2019.

    Thank you, Kirsten. I am looking forward to starting up a new set of goals/lessons with you this Spring.

    -Herb Coolidge (USA Triathlon Association M 60-64 All American 2019)


    Thanks so much for your help, Kirsten. It's becoming increasingly difficult for me to dislike swimming when there are swims like this morning. :)

    --Jeannine Foster



    In my first lesson Kirsten helped me so much with my technique (elbows during pull phase, distance per stroke, relaxing) that at the end of my very next workout, I was able to hit my goal of sub 1:20 with a 1:18 100yd. Focusing on form gave me beautiful moments of clarity and strength- felt awesome when that happened!

    Setting my sights on a 1:15.

    Thank you.

    Can't wait to work with you again soon!

    -Keri Lupien

    (subsequently has gone 1:13!)



    Swimming meditation...

    "Think like a long boat, stretching out on my tip-toes, the longer I am the better the reach, the better I can easily glide through the water. Head down with eyes angling forward slightly, paying attention to my hand and arm stroke entering and pulling through the water. Hands are flat as they enter the water, wrists slightly bent, hands slightly cupped, hands and arms serving as my paddles, powerfully pushing the water back. Rest and relax arms as they go through the recovery phase. Turn and rotate my body slightly to the side for a longer reach and less resistance. Legs are relaxed and kicking from the hips with feet flexible. Breathing is relaxed while filling up the chest and abdomen. Appreciate the beauty of the water and your surroundings, aware of how fortunate you are to be healthy and alive.”

    -Matthew Muise


    Wow...having fun with this! Swam a mile yesterday and today and really enjoyed relaxing while concentrating on many points. I can see me improving down the road because I already feel more efficient. I like the catch up as it makes me think about my paddle which is easier to think about one arm at a time, and it makes me kick a little more which is good for me. For the first time, even though I practiced kicking all winter, I am thinking about kicking from the hips and keeping me feet flexible. One interesting concept: watching you show me your stroke style out of the water was a great visual. In that moment I saw you from a photographers perspective, it was striking how fluid and graceful your arms moved. In a strange way it reminded me of a baseball player for the Red Sox (Dwight Evans) who had the best baseball throwing motion and accuracy of his generation. He had the best physics and the best style. So, in a relaxed way I have been thinking about having a smooth almost stylish stroke as well as having a "strong paddle" under the water. Hope this makes sense. The articles and videos are fabulous too. Thanks for the start! …We only met that one time but it had a dramatic effect on me. As you know, in your “work “ you sometimes have a powerful lasting effect on swimmers without knowing it. Such is the life of an amazing person/coach as you are.

    -Matthew Muise


    OMG the swim was actually my favorite part of yesterday. Swimming in a washing machine of thousands of athletes and never faltered, never, I swam strong. I did not go to dark places. I did get kicked several times but I held my own, all with the grace and confidence instilled in my from an amazing coach! 1:37 per 100 is huge for me — huge and HUGE!! When you listen and practice what Coach says great things can be done. I am so glad that our lives crossed paths and I could honor you in true Kgirl fashion at IMMT.

    -Katherine Chabot-Boucher

    Ironman Mont Tremblant



    I attended an open water swim with you last summer and with just a few tips from you went from being a 2:15-2:20 per 100 swimmer to a 1:50-2:00 per 100 swimmer. (She went on to hold 1:45 pace this year for Peaks to Portland.)

    -Kelly Edwards (P2P)


    I couldn’t have done it without you.

    -Sean O’Hare (P2P)


    Kirsten, you deserve a lot of the credit for what I accomplished today. Your tips, coaching, and support helped me to do something today which I did not imagine possible a year ago.

    -Chris Branson (P2P)


    I am so grateful for your coaching and support which really got me through the rough spots and able to complete this race! I am very happy.

    -Dori Amara (P2P)


    BTW I’m pretty happy that I shaved 3 min off my swim time at Tri for a Cure….yes! Kgirl coaching and a new wetsuit!!! Thank you, lady K!

    -Julie Griffin (Tri for a Cure)


    Can’t wait to be with you again next fall. You have helped me so much. In my open water swims I am now consistently at or below 2min/100 and was never better than 2:20/100 before. Peter can’t believe how much faster I am. Thank you so much!

    -Merle Westbrook

    I’ve had the chance to swim and work with Kirsten over the past 3 years as she’s developed her KGR swim program. As a lifelong competitive swimmer who now competes as an elite triathlete I’ve seen a gamut of coaches and methodologies. The foundation of what you should look for is always the same — someone with years of experience in the sport and someone who cares deeply about the people they work with. There are a lot of games in town and I always tell perspective athletes to do their homework. Good coaches aren’t born out of thin air, they develop just like athletes, so my suggestion is find someone who can walk the talk. Kirsten does just that. Her stroke analysis is on par with leading coaches in the world and she helped me refine and fix flaws in my stroke that had been the result of bad habits over 20 years. Whether you’re suffering from adult onset swimming disorder or at the top of your field, her expertise will make you a better swimmer. I currently work for Purple Patch Fitness under Matt Dixon and have had the chance to speak and work with professionals such as Gerry Rodrigues and Paul Newsome, of the now famous Swim Smooth. Kirsten uses the same methodologies that are at the leading edge of swimming mechanics and efficiency. I couldn’t endorse her more strongly as a coach, or human being.
    -Matthew Hurley
    winner, Casco Bay SwimRun, Maine 70.3

    I sought out a swim coach after signing up for a 10K OWS and realizing my strokes and speed were not improving through my local Master’s swim program. The classes had over 30 swimmers, usually 6+ swimmers to a lane, and I needed more personalized training. Kirsten came recommended by a friend in the long-distance swim community, and responded almost immediately to my request for information. Down to earth and extremely easy to talk to, she was open to working with me virtually as we live about 100 miles from each other. Kirsten provides several workouts a week as well as helpful links to swim videos that demonstrate proper form. She recently analyzed a short video I took of myself swimming, and then illustrated, by frame, what I was doing well and what I needed to work on. What an eye opener! Though I have been swimming for over 20 years, this is the first time I’ve been able to actually “see” my strokes.


    One thing I love about working with Kirsten is that the workouts she designs are a collaboration of her expertise and my needs as a developing long-distance swimmer. I am very data-driven, and through the use of Garmin Connect I can upload my workouts for Kirsten to review and adjust the intervals in my workouts as needed. She is able to translate what you are looking for into technique drills and intervals designed to help get you to where you want to be. Example? After only 6 virtual workouts and adjusting my catch, I was able to shave 13 seconds off of my 1-mile pace. Six months from now I can’t wait to see where I am!


    I had the pleasure of meeting Kirsten at an OWS event in MA about a month after I started working with her and she is without a doubt one of the nicest people you will come across. If you are able to self-motivate and are looking for someone to take you to the next level, I highly recommend contacting her!

    -Naomi Fisher

    I started swimming in my mid forties after deciding to take up triathlon. There are a hundred ways to invest in triathlon, which includes three sports. All the equipment and gadgets, each with various results. Magazines and media can add further confusion to the training process. After a couple years of going it alone with my swimming, I made an investment which has proved to be the most worthwhile one yet, coaching. Working with Kirsten provided immediate improvement to my technique and performance. Kirsten provides a positive atmosphere to learn what can be a challenging endeavor. Kirsten takes a genuine interest in the progress of her clients and engages as a partner in your swimming journey. If you are on the fence deciding whether to invest in swim coaching, don't be. You will be glad you did.
    -Curt Lebel

    Just finished a lake swim..my longest ever. feeling more skilled, more comfortable each time I get in the water with the one less-than-one-hour swim instruction from you beats all the private swim lessons and the swim clinic sessions combined...a year ago, even with all the St Joe's lessons and clinics, i did not look forward to swimming as much as i do now...because of the session with you! You have made the difference, gave me confidence, and skills to work on. I look forward to my swims now. thanks!
    -John Keller
    I absolutely enjoyed our lesson on Sunday. It was the most helpful information Ive ever been given regarding swimming, after trying off and on this past 3 years. I greatly appreciate your approach to teaching, and breaking down each aspect of the technique into manageable bite size pieces. I recognize I have a lot to work on, but it doesn't feel overwhelming, is feels like something I can really gain efficiency from...Thanks again for all the great feedback in your follow-up email and the videos are awesome!
    -Nick Mansperger


    Swimming is going great! Much less shoulder pain. Feel faster and stronger. Endurance is strong. Did 3500 yards yesterday in 1:09 and was not really trying to kill it. Best money I have spent is on you!

    - Bob Cundiff



    Thank you so much!! I cannot believe how much useful info you gave me in such a short period of time! It eclipsed the amount of info I've been given over the past 5 years by a hundred-fold.
    - Yvonne D.



    Thanks so much for all of the links. I have looked at all of them. Now - I just want to get back to the pool to try some more things. But more than the links, thanks for all your help, insights, and technique coaching. It is something I wanted for years, and was never in a place to be coached. I have had a chance to see a few coaches work with students. One of the reasons I wanted to work with you was because you always seemed to be much more involved, animated, and active when I saw you working with folks. And you were that way with me. Thanks much! It has really made a BIG difference.

    - Mike Lynch




    I have been an age group triathlete for twelve years but never really had any formal instruction. This year I decided to hire Kirsten Read to help me make some improvements as I train for my upcoming season. After spending twelve years figuring things out on my own (or not) Kirsten has helped me make substantial improvement in just a short time. She has breathed new life into my swim training and I am now heading to the pool with a renewed interest in swimming and the confidence that I can still improve!


    - Bob Turner, Owner, 207 Multisport, USAT Level 1 Certified Coach



    When I learned that my application had been accepted for the Tri-for-a-Cure, I panicked. Though I had a running and biking background, it had been years since I'd actually been in a pool. How very lucky I was to discover Kirsten and to have her as a guide as I, literally, jumped back into the water.


    Kirsten is the consummate teacher and coach. She listens, inspires, challenges, questions and encourages in the very best of ways. Like any excellent teacher, Kirsten cares about my experience, pays attention to my self-doubt and then knows how to push me past these limitations to try harder.


    Initially our lessons took the form of stroke analysis. Kirsten videotaped and watched me swim lap after lap offering suggestions, exercises and various swimming aids to help highlight our focus. After the lessons, she emailed the videos and offered a review of the salient points for my own practice. How helpful it was to have the tapes to return to and to record my progress over the arc of several weeks. Kirsten also has been instrumental in providing me with workout programs to develop my speed and stamina.


    Though the videotapes and swimming aids help to deepen my learning, it is truly Kirsten herself who inspires me to do better. I trust in her input and want to work harder as she is so committed to my improvement. She is curious, devoted, passionate and simply a wonderful teacher.

    - Carolyn Megan



    Kirsten has been the best swim coach. She has each lesson directed toward the things I need to work on and it's really fun. I have learned so much. I would highly recommend her for anyone looking to improve their stroke or even if you are new to swimming. Thanks Kirsten for all your help and for making it fun along the way.

    -Michelle Birkel


    Thanks for all your coaching advice! I dropped over 10 seconds on my 100 last night - which was very encouraging!
    -Sandy Fussell



    Kirsten is a skilled communicator. She gives constructive feedback and always checks in on how I feel when applying technique changes to make sure that I’m seeing and feeling improvements. After our session, she follows up with video evaluation and more helpful and positive feedback. I’m finally learning to love swimming. Thank you Kirsten.


    I just wanted to tell you all the great comments I have heard about our Sunday nights. You are doing a terrific job and how awesome to hear from the great swimmers, "I have had an ah-ha moment", "I am learning so much" and "what a great workout". I always thought that great swimmers didn't need to learn something new. I don't feel so alone being a relatively new swimmer.

    -Katie K


    Thank you Kirsten! This clinic was a great confidence booster for me. You are an amazing coach/instructor, your love of swimming came across in every class and definitely kept me motivated to push myself to get better every week.


    My husband is a little jealous of all the great information you gave us, I've tried to share some of it, but hey, I know he'll out run me so I need to keep a little edge on him in the water. :)

    -Tammy Ingalls


    Do You Swim at One Speed? Try mixing in some Faster swims with Active Recovery swims in your training. Power Strokes might mean stronger strokes or faster tempo strokes (think: racing!), but either way they will get your heart rate up and they will probably feel unsustainable. Active Recovery...
    VARY YOUR HEAD HEIGHT DRILL:   - Decide how many strokes you want to do each at Low, Medium and High height and for how long. I suggest 10 strokes at each height.   - Take your time to focus and don't forget to breathe. Which feels most loose, natural, neutral for your neck? Do the different...
    If you know how to do the freestyle Catch-Up Drill, you know that one arm fully meets up with the arm out in front before the first arm pulls. This video demonstrates a modified catch up freestyle and is not a drill. Try holding the lead arm out for two beats while the other arm ALMOST catches...
    More Posts

    I look forward to discussing your unique goals.  Let's connect!

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    read (dot) kgirl (at) gmail.com