Let’s review. So far in the Zero to Hero Swim Boot Camp, we’ve talked about:
Today, we have 10 race day tips that will help any beginner triathlete feel more prepared and confident for that moment when you’re standing on the shore waiting for your triathlon to start.
1. Mentally Prepare
The mind is your most powerful tool when it comes to the swim. If you can calm your mind, your body will be more relaxed and you’ll have better control of your breathing and be less likely to panic. Here are 5 tips that have helped me, and I hope they’ll help you, mentally prepare for my race day swim.
2. Have a Mantra
Similarly to #1, having a mantra can help motivate you to keep going and it will keep your mind from going down the I’m-about-to-drown-I-hate-this-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into road. Come up with a simple phrase that you can repeat to yourself as you swim. “I am a strong swimmer”, “You can do this”, or “You’re almost there”.
3. Try This Workout
Before your triathlon, try this workout when you do your next open water swim. It will help you get used to what it feels like to run after swimming.
4. Use A Checklist
You’re probably aready a little bit (or a lot bit) nervous about this swim, so to avoid any more anxiety, use this checklist to make sure you remember all of your gear.
5. Don’t Try Anything New
I’m guilty of trying new wetsuits and rash guards on race day because, for some odd reason, it made me feel more comfortable about the swim. But you know what? I always regret it. ALWAYS. Even if it seems like the best idea in the world to borrow a wetsuit last minute or to swim with a new pair of goggles, DON’T DO IT! It may give you some temporary confidence, but in the end, if you haven’t practiced with it, you’ll probably regret it.
6. Make Friends
There’s a ton of nervous/anxious/excited energy in the air before the race starts. And even if that girl next to you looks stoic and confident, chances are she’s fighting the butterflies in her stomach and trying not to throw up. Davey and I have both made some fast friends when we’ve chatted with the other triathletes in our wave before the race starts. It’s a great way to get your mind off how nervous you are and who knows, you may even get a few helpful tips from your new friend!
7. Don’t Panic!
Realx! For a sprint triathlon, the swim is only about 8-12 minutes and it will be over before you know it. If you start to panic, roll onto your back and slow your breathing down, or swim over to a life boat or canoe and hang on until you relax. Try to get back into a rhythm and repeat your encouraging mantra. Take the swim one buoy at a time and imagine how awesome you’ll feel once it’s over and you can say that you conquered your triathlon swim!
8. Position Yourself Strategically
Scared to be stuck in the middle of a million swimmers? Most beginner triathletes head towards the back to avoid the crowd, but that’s not the best place to be because the swimmers in the wave that starts after you will catch up to you and that’s exactly what you were trying to avoid in the first place. Check out this post on the best places to position yourself for your triathlon swim.
9. Practice Your Exit
When you finally see the shore, you may be tempted to stand up and run through the water as soon as you can touch the bottom. Don’t. You’ll get to the shore much faster if you swim until you hand touches the bottom than if you tried to run through waist deep water. Practice running out of the water with high knees and also practice taking off your wetsuit as you exit the water.
10. Smile (when you get out of the water)
You. Made. It! The swim is OVER! That’s something to smile about! Also, there’s usually a photographer at the swim exit, so smile for the camera so you look like Davey on the right, not like Davey on the left.