Race Day - Triathlon Swim

  • Everyone panics the first time they tackle a triathlon swim, especially if it is in open water. You will too…and then you will get over it and start swimming like the confident swimmer you are. Remember, relaxed muscles float much better than tense muscles.

  • Breathing is everything!  Remember to breathe, steadily, deeply, and as slowly as you can without affecting your performance.  Imagine that you are in a pool, doing your regular swim, getting into the perfect, mindless rhythm.  That is exactly where you want to be in a race swim too.
  • During your swim, do not cross the buoys or you can be penalized or be disqualified from the race.

  • Know that the lifeguards are there are for!  In most races, there are ample guards watching each swim wave.  It is even legal to ask for their temporary assistance if you need to adjust something or catch your breath, and then resume swimming again (as long as they don’t have to remove you from the water).
  • Keep an eye out as to where you’re going. Pick up your head and spot the buoys so you don’t do any extra swimming. (read more on spotting)

  • For advanced swimmers: See if there is a swimmer in front of you that can give you a free ride. (read more on drafting)

  • Enjoy your surroundings. Most people work so hard they miss the fun of the event! Sometimes you can see fish swimming below you!

  • If you get tired, find a lifeguard on a surfboard and rest. You may continue swimming after you have rested a bit.

  • Don’t worry about feeling other people in the water.  Nobody is trying to harm you!  They are probably just as annoyed that they ran into you.  If you want your space, stay out of the main lane and go off to the side a bit.  You will lose some time but will also not have as many people near you.
  • If you feel like you have not trained properly for the race and cannot continue OR you get hurt, wave your arms and make a lot of noise while you have the energy so that a lifeguard can help you.

  • Swim as far as you can into the shore during the finish. Walking/running in water is an energy-hog — you’ll lose time and be exhausted for the job up to the transition area.

Don’t forget that the basis for a good triathlon raceday swim is to have trained well.  If you are nervous about the swim, train well and be prepared.  Check out our piece on key swim products to make sure you are ready to hit the pool and get into swim shape. 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.

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

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