Fighting for the best swimming spot?
Just before the start of the triathlon, the swimming course and the competition are looked at closely. Where shall I lie down at the start? How does the shortest line run from buoy to buoy? And which one of you will be my drafting mate who will take me to the bike section with as little energy wastage as possible with lifeguard training near me.
Shortly after the starting gun, it often turns out that the tactical preview turns out differently. It’s always busier than expected, there are always more people who thought of starting from the side and there are always more poor people who also seem to be fighting for the best swimming spot. It seems that everyone is riding on your feet instead of the other way around. And looking back at your sports watch, it turns out later that you certainly did not follow the straightest line.
In short, that swimming part, how do you approach it most conveniently in the triathlon?
Humble or bold at the start?
In any case real. If you’re not a great swimmer, getting the front row starts shows ambition, but it’s a bad idea. For yourself and for the swimmers behind you. But you don’t want to sit all the way back either! If you’re so humble as to let everyone else go first, you risk being behind the breaststroke swimmers. Not a good place. Firstly, you run the risk of getting a flight of stairs and secondly, you just have to see that you get past it in one piece. So it is important to stand up for your spot at the start.
A few tricks to get through the start well…
- Make sure that no one can accidentally pull off your swimming goggles or (possibly) nose clip. So put a swimming cap over your goggles so that the elastic is underneath and attach the nose clip to the swimming goggles with a nylon fishing thread.
- Practice the water-mass start often in training. Not only outdoors, but also in the pool is easy. Remove a line in the last 5 minutes, and do some exercises with 15 people on two lanes. If you are used to some pushing and physical contact, then it is less of an issue in the competition. Basically, you should feel so comfortable in the water that you can focus on swimming without being distracted by all the other things that happen to you.
- Mass start from the beach? Run into the water – pulling your lower legs out to the side over the water – to about hip depth. Then do a few dolphin dives where you push off each time and let your arms do a butterfly stroke for support. If the water gets too deep to effectively push off, you will continue to swim.
At a water start, lie down ready in the water. Face towards the start line and legs behind you on the surface of the water. To keep yourself afloat in the same spot, use a little splashing kick. No one wants to be near that.
In the pool there is a line on the bottom and lines next to you. Swimming straight ahead is a breeze. When swimming in open water you will occasionally have to look forward to get your bearings. The higher you lift your head, the more your legs drop. Many triathletes take a breath and look forward at the same time. That is super heavy because when you breathe, your mouth must also be out of the water.
You make it easier on yourself by disconnecting looking and breathing from each other. It goes like this:
You look forward keeping your head as low as possible. Only your eyes come out of the water. You do this when you insert your arm on the side where you are not breathing (it looks a bit cryptic, see picture 1)
You lower your head again and immediately turn to the side to breathe normally.
Try to limit your viewing as it makes swimming more difficult. On the other hand, you don’t want to go through the reeds either. Look at least every 6 to 10 strokes – unless you swim behind someone and trust that person to do the looking work ;-).
Tips for swimming straight:
You can already practice that viewing technique from above in the swimming pool. Ultimately, it’s nothing more or less than a movement you’re getting into, and you can practice that in chlorinated water too. For example, swim 500 meters, looking forward at the center of each lane, then taking your breath to the side.
Take a prominent point beforehand. That can be a buoy, building, a high tree, flagpole etc, something that you can easily see – in a flash – when you are swimming.
Do you also have to swim back? Also look back to determine what the landmark will be. This is sometimes forgotten.
Provide clear vision. Use anti-fog spray / spit / dish soap on glasses that fog quickly. Wear dark-lens goggles if you’re swimming in full sun, and clear-lens goggles in gloomy weather. Do you have trouble seeing because you normally wear glasses? You can order prescription swimming goggles. Then don’t swap the accompanying canoe for the finish arch (really happened).
You are not alone!
Swimming in a group has advantages, comparable to drafting on a bicycle. If you can swim behind someone of the same speed, that saves you 18 – 25% of your energy. Or you manage to stay behind a faster swimmer so that you realize a better swimming time. Nice is not it?
If you participate in a competition where there is a mass start, swim at your own speed for the first few minutes. Then you see who is swimming near you – chances are you are about the same speed – and try to find out.