If you are just getting into the triathlon game, then out of the three areas the swim is usually everyone’s fear. Yes, open water swimming can be challenging, but it is not to be feared. If this is your first triathlon then you must check to see if you can use a wetsuit. A triathlon wetsuit will keep you buoyant while also providing added warmth for the chilly ocean water. If you are worried about being cold in your wetsuit there are accessories such as neoprene socks and gloves that add a little extra warmth to your swim (although may not be race legal).
So, what is there to expect when you start your triathlon off in the water. A whole lot of getting kicked in the face, goggles fogging up, as well as your run of the mill panic attack. Did I scare you yet? Ask any triathlon participant and they will say the same thing. As long as you slow your breathing down and take it one stroke at a time you can make it through the dreaded swim portion.
When It comes to getting kicked by other participants around you, that is part of the game. To avoid this, avoid the crowd in the middle and move to the outside of the pack. Also moving to the back will help avoid being close to other people. Another potential risk spot for getting kicked at during the swim portion is the turn around point. A suggestion is as you approach the turnaround swim wide of any buoys and other participants.
Something to keep in mind when prepping for your race is to make sure you know the swim course before you get in the water. This may sound kind of obvious, but you want to make sure you are not swimming more than you have to. Once you are in the water you can use buoys and landmarks as reference points. This tip can save you a lot of time and energy on the swim portion. It can help break the swim portion up into sections and not focusing on the whole distance left.
So, as you can see open water swimming is not like lap swimming in a pool. Yes, it can be daunting but once you get the hang of it you will be a pro in no time! Happy swimming!