Your mission is to perform a reconnaissance of swimming facilities in your area. I'm talking about pools -- don't worry about open-water swimming just yet.
If you're an OK swimmer, look for a master's swim team. There is an organization governing all this, and it's called U.S. Master's Swimming. The very best way to get better in a hurry is to join a master's swim club.
Here are some pointers: Go to the home page for masters swimming and find one or more masters programs in your area. Most of those programs have some sort of contact info: Web site, coach's telephone number, etc. Inquire, and find out whether triathletes work out there, and how welcome a newbie, slow triathlete might feel in this club.
Get onto the rec.sport.triathlon Usenet Newsgroup and ask about masters programs in your area. See what the triathletes on the group recommend. Call up your area Parks and Recreation department. Ask them the same questions.
One more shopping trip for you. You've got to get competition swimwear. No baggie swim trunks, but those competition briefs (or, for women, competition swim suits). And goggles.
You don't need expensive goggles. But they need to fit. My favorite goggles cost $3.95. They way you know they fit is when you put one eyepiece up to your eye, press gently, and it forms a suction -- without the strap keeping it on your head. Of course, many of these goggles come in a blisterpack, and you'll have to break the packaging to do this test. If the store won't let you do this, find another store.
If you don't know how to swim you're going to have to work a little harder at this. I must confess that I'm not the person to be giving out advice to those who have no swimming background. You're sort of on your own. But in this case I'd still refer to those same resources above. It's just that you might have to start out in a swimming program that is more elementary, and then after a few weeks of classes, graduate to masters swimming.
That shouldn't discourage you, though. You just don't have to be fast at all to join a master's swim club. They've got -- let us say -- eight lanes in the pool, perhaps more. Lane one is the speedy lane, and lane eight is for duffers. If you're a duffer you'll find some very friendly people in that lane -- people just like you (it's generally lanes two and three that you find people with attitudes).
I'm still not giving you any swim workouts, or cycling workouts for that matter. But you'll start getting swim workouts next week, so be all signed up this week for whatever program is appropriate for you. Or, if you're doing your swimming solo, find yourself a pool. It's got to be at least 25 yard long (no backyard pools).
Running: 5 x 20 minutes
Ready to catch the swim-bike-run bug? Check out our Give it a Tri section
Sprint-distance triathlons are great for beginners. Find one and register online
Check out the full beginning tri-training guide