M-distance Triathlon in Gérardmer: end of 1,500m swim leg, I came out of the water in third place. Yes, third! Me, a standard runner, quite average swimmer who is used to coming out in the midst of a mass of triathletes. Even my father didn't understand and looked at me, wide-eyed: “What is he doing there already??”
So what happened?? I can only see two possible explanations: either I improved dramatically in just a few weeks, or the others got it wrong. I admit I would have preferred the first option… ;-) but I don't mind the second one either! Indeed, that day all the swimmers who were in front got it wrong (we're talking about fifty or so swimmers..!) at a buoy. They all went left when they should have gone right because they didn't take the time to lift their heads to orient themselves. By the time they realised, turned around and got back in the right direction, I was able to make my own way to the exit as a guest star.
Why am I telling you this? First of all, to de-dramatise the swim leg of the triathlon. Most people fail to take the plunge because of this race. To reassure you, don't ever forget this: the people swimming alongside you are thinking the same as you “I hope I don't get a beating!”. Yes, it's a bit rough but you'll see that it's not that bad. I am also lucky because I am one of those triathletes who like to swim in open water and, on the whole, I do well in the swim leg. And yet I've come from far! Originally a runner, I learnt to swim when I started doing triathlons.
Like many people, I swam breast stroke on my first triathlon because I couldn't breathe properly and, mainly, I don't go very fast in front crawl.
Nowadays I often come out in the top spots during the swim legs with the luxury of beating swimmers who do much better than me during training sessions in the pool.And no I don't cheat by shortening the swimming distance, I don't swim like a maniac every day to improve and I don't take drugs ;-). I have just understood the importance of technique and regularity in swimming and the importance of combining training in the pool with training in open water because the two practices have very different objectives.