HOW TO SERENLY TACKLE THE SWIM LEG IN TRIATHLON ? 

Swimming is always a stressful part during a triathlon, even more so when it's your first. You wonder what will happen? And how to deal with it? Follow the guide!

 

Indeed, triathlon swimming is usually the part that beginners fear the most, one of the main barriers to taking on the triple challenge.

But you shouldn't worry, with good training and a few tips, you'll see that it's possible to tackle the swim leg serenely !

 

TRAIN TO BE AT EASE WITH THE SWIMMING 

First and foremost, it is important to know that all strokes are allowed in triathlon, so you can use breaststroke if this is the stroke you feel most comfortable with , no need to master the front crawl from the start.

Then, no secret, to be comfortable, you need to practise! You need to find the motivation that will lead you to swim at least once a week. Think of how good you will feel after each workout, and how training once a week and finding the means to achieve your goal will make you proud. We all know that the hardest part is to get started, once you're in the water, you just swim!

Try to increase the distances gradually until you can swim the distance required for your next triathlon. You can even find training programmes on the internet and follow structured triathlon-specific swimming sessions, to avoid the monotony of just swimming laps.

 

If you really feel uncomfortable in the water, do not hesitate to take a few lessons in order to learn the basics and improve your technique. You will gain confidence, you will save energy and you will feel at ease on race day.

 

Tip: to make progress in swimming, consider doing a few muscle strengthening sessions during the week. It will tone your abdominal and back muscles to promote better position in the water and help your body stay straight. You will gain in efficiency and discover the famous gliding sensation and the pleasure it provides!

 

Important advice: if you want to get used to open water swimming conditions and not be taken aback on race day, try to practise in natural environments, such as a lake or the sea. This will allow you to practise swimming in a wetsuit, get used to fresher temperatures than in pools and get familiar with sometimes limited visibility.

Learn how to find your way by lifting your head regularly while swimming and locate a distant point, it will prove very useful on race day to target the buoys.

The ideal, when possible, is to swim in a group, in the feet of the person in front of you, it will give you a sneak peek of the triathlon swim mass start, and its washing machine effect!

Finally, be patient, with practice and perseverance you will feel increasingly comfortable in the water and you will gain confidence.

 

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GET THE RIGHT GEAR  TO MAKE YOUR TRIATHLON SWIM EASIER 

Simultaneously to your swimming training, remember to find the right equipment to practise your triathlon in the best possible conditions. A staple to provide buoyancy and protection from the cold: the neoprene wetsuit. Select a model specifically designed for triathlon that promotes glide and buoyancy, freedom of movement at the shoulders for easier swimming and easy openings to remove it fast during transition. The wetsuit is mandatory when the water temp is below 16°C, optional when it is between 16 and 24°C, and prohibited when the water temp is 24°C or more. Some fear high temperatures and not being allowed to wear a wetsuit because they are a real asset to get extra buoyancy and improve the swimming time!

 

Practise swimming with the wetsuit, even if you train in a pool, because the swimming sensations are different and you need to make sure that it's not too tight. Indeed, if you're too tight in your wetsuit, you will have the unpleasant feeling of being breathless in open water. Also learn how to take it off, some practice will save you some stress on race day.

 

Invest in open water specific goggles with wide lenses for better vision and a quality foam seal for comfort. Some goggles even have tinted lenses to prevent sun glare outdoors.

 

For race day, bring a swimming cap on which you can put your goggles and on top of that, the race cap. It will prevent your goggles from being inadvertently pulled out (you never know, in the mess of the mass start!) and will keep you warmer is the weather is cool that day.

 

Finally, don't forget to take an anti chafing stick or petroleum jelly to apply at your neck, wrists and ankles for the race. It will prevent irritations from the suit at the neck and will help you put it off more easily. The anti-chafing stick can also be applied to the armpits and crotch to protect your skin from chafing during the run.

 

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ALL OUR TIPS FOR SWIMMING ON RACE DAY  

Race day is coming, stress is going up... How will this swim start go? Don't panic, you have trained, you have adequate equipment, now you just need to thoroughly prepare your swim start to avoid stress and fully enjoy this moment!

 

Below are a few hints and tips to tackle your triathlon start serenely:

- Memorise the swimming course and listen carefully to the referee briefing, to ensure you won't go the wrong side of the buoy for example.

- Enter the water shortly before the start wearing your wetsuit to get used to the water temperature. If you have enough time, swim a few laps to warm up. Depending on races, the start can be from the edge of a pond, of a stream, from the beach, a pontoon or directly in the water. Either way, it's always better to go in the water beforehand.

- If you are not an expert swimmer, position yourself at the back or at the side of the group to avoid the "washing machine effect" and have time to find your stroke. If you feel more comfortable, you should not position yourself at the far back to avoid being stuck behind slower swimmers.

- Remember that you're allowed to use any stroke you feel most comfortable with, do not hesitate to alternate between front crawl and breaststroke until you find your pace.

- Remember to turn around the buoy if there are many of you, it's a difficult moment where everyone will push and shove!

Finally, here's a hint if you want to save some energy during the swim: follow directly behind the feet of someone who swims at the same pace as you. You will benefit from this drafting position to reduce your energy output and save it for the rest of the race. A similar effect occurs if you position at their side, but make sure they are going in the right direction!

 

Remember that hydration plays an essential part in your race preparation, and don't forget to drink fluid after the swim. You can also use a prerace drink one hour before the start to maintain your level of hydration and blood sugar that could both be affected by stress.

 

You now have all the keys for a successful swim leg in triathlon. Enjoy the race and have fun! You'll see that after doing your first triathlon swim, you will gain your own experience and it will just get better!

 

 

charlotte-signature

Charlotte

Passionnée de sport, j’ai longtemps pratiqué la danse avant de découvrir le triathlon qui est devenu une vraie addiction dès ma première course ! Adepte des distances Sprint et Olympique, j’aime la variété qu’offre ce sport tant au niveau de sa pratique que de l’environnement dans lequel il me fait évoluer. Le triathlon c’est toujours de beaux défis en perspective avec beaucoup de plaisir à la clé !

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