Panic at the Triathlon Start

Triathlon Event I just completed my lifelong dream of completing my first triathlon. It went well and I finished which was my goal. The problem I had was with the swim. I had a panic attack in the water. With the coldness of the water and the first time swimming in a lake, it’s no wonder I felt the panic. Do you have any suggestions to feeling like you can’t catch your breath in cold water? I’m doing another tri in August, but the water isn’t going to be much warmer..

Kimberly from Washington

Triathlon EventHi Kimberly,

Thank you for contacting!

Believe it or not EVERYONE panics the first few times they run into the water during the start of a triathlon. Read these articles and you’ll see you’re not alone:

  • How to Avoid A Frightening Start:Think Out of the Pack (video) – We thought that this was, quite possibly, the funniest video we’ve seen depicting a triathlon start and wanted to share it with you for a laugh!
  • Swimming Outdoors – The very funny account written below is very common for those swimmers who have spent years and years training in a pool and enter their first triathlon without having spent a daytraining in open water. It’s very different!!! So many obstacles can be avoided IF you take the time to read this article.

Just remember, there are lots of things going on during the start that you want to consider:

  1. You’re excited
  2. There are about 100+ other excited bodies around you
  3. You all run into the water at the same time
  4. Your adrenaline starts pumping
  5. You swim like a crazy person
  6. The adrenaline wears off

Everyone panics right around this time and then:

  1. You are hit in the face with reality
  2. You get your head together and start swimming like you’ve practiced

Once you’ve been involved with a few triathlon starts, you’ll stop panicking and begin with #8, getting your head together. Then you’ll start each race with confidence and a mental grasp. Feel free to also use a Wetsuit if they are permitted, but we really think it’s just your newness to the sport and you’ll overcome it with practice.

Please email us with any other questions.

Be well.

~Niki staff Recommended Resources:


Triathlon Swim : – Get the low-down on gear and read tips for training and events.

Triathlon Bike: – Learn how to structure bike workouts, find safety tips and read recommendations on great bike gear.

Triathlon Run : – Get the ultimate skinny on running sneakers, running gear, safety tips and much more.

“Triathlete Profile
Read interviews of people like YOU who give advice on training, balance and much more.

There are Newbies Starting Triathlons Every Day. Today Just Happens to be YOUR Day!