Have you always wanted to do a triathlon but are nervous about the swim? Ah yes… the swim. Fear of having to swim in open water with a crowd of people is one of the most popular reasons that most people shy away from doing a triathlon.
Maybe you haven’t swam since those swim lessons your mom made you take when you were younger, or you imagine the swim to be like this:
It’s one thing to swim laps in a pool while training for your triathlon, but it’s a whole other thing to swim in open water with a crowd of people. If you are afraid to leave the safety of your lap lane, then keep reading! We’ve got some great tips for swimming to help boost your confidence in the water and to ease the anxiety of your triathlon swim. We want you to start (and finish) your race with a smile on your face… and to swim with confidence!
Here are 4 tips to help you swim with confidence in a crowd:
1. Don’t start in the back of the pack
If you have anxiety about getting bumped by other swimmers, you may be tempted to believe that the back of the pack is the best place for you. WRONG! Think about it. Unless you’re in the last wave (a.k.a. group), the fast swimmers in the wave after you may catch up to you and it will be just like you’re in the middle of the pack. On the other hand, you may actually be a faster swimmer than you think and YOU might catch up to the other swimmers in your wave and find yourself in the most crowded area where you’ll be sure to be knocked around. So stay away from the back.
2. Stay on the Sidelines
Being on the sideline in most other sports is not a desired place to be. However, in the swim portion of your triathlon, it’s prime real estate. By positioning yourself on the sides, you are giving yourself more room to swim because there are usually fewer swimmers on the edges. Since the sidelines are less crowded, you decrease your chances of getting bumped by another swimmer! Just make sure you pick your head up and look around every few strokes (a.k.a. sight) to make sure you’re going in the right direction since there will be fewer swimmers to follow over on the sides!
3. Embace the Suck
During my first triathlon I didn’t get bumped at all during the swim! Not even once! It was probably because I accidently veered off course, but after reading a ton of (intimidating) triathlon books and talking to a few experienced triathletes during my training, I was fully prepared to be pummeled during the swim. Even if I had gotten bumped, I probably wouldn’t have minded because I was already expecting it.
The sooner you embrace the fact that you probably will get bumped during the swim, the sooner you can focus on better things– like having fun! It’s easy to become angry and get all worked up when you get bumped, but just remember, the other swimmers aren’t doing it on purpose. YOU will probably kick someone too. It’s the nature of the sport. Yes, it sucks, but it’s part of the experience, so just go with it and enjoy every moment. You may even come away with some great stories!
Have you ever tried aqua jogging? Notice how much slower you “run” in the pool? Well, water slows down your rate of motion, so even if you do get kicked or swatted, the water absorbs most of the shock. The best thing you can do is to RELAX! If you are tensed up during your swim, then you will use up more energy and tire out quicker. If you need to stop and regroup or take a rest, that’s totally fine. There will be lifeguards all along the course and you can rest during any part of the swim leg by either standing on the bottom or holding onto a floating buoy. So keep calm and swim on!
And remember, you’re not alone! There are many triathletes who get anxious about the swim… even if they’ve done it before. We hope these simple tips for swimming will help calm your nerves and inspire you to swim with confidence!