Tri-Umphant! 10 Weeks to Your First Sprint Tri
Surviving the Swim
Most of us feel comfortable riding a bike or heading out for a run. But swimming in open water can make even pool regulars panic. That goes double if the course is crowded, the water is cold, or the waves are choppy. Swim easily with these confidence-building tips.Do at least two open-water practice swims.
For many first-timers, the idea of getting into a body of water that doesn't have a lane line to follow and a wall to rest at can be intimidating. But practicing can help. "The first time is scary, but the second, a lot less so," Cozik says. If possible, try to get into water that's similar to what you'll be racing in, whether it's a lake or the ocean. "Even if just the color or the taste of the water is familiar, it can help on race day," she adds. This is also a good time to try out your wet suit if you'll be wearing one. And always swim with a partner so you'll feel a little safer.Stay to one side.
When it's your turn to hit the water in the race (which is typically in a wave-type format, where several swimmers go at once), avoid the crowd by moving toward the side that's farthest from the buoys. "Try not to get caught in the middle of the crowd, where the water can get very choppy," Cozik says.Do whatever stroke you need to.
Freestyle is the most popular because it's generally the most efficient, but if you start to get nervous, do the breaststroke for a bit or float on your back, then return to freestyle.Wear-test your outfit.
A good rule of thumb: Try nothing new on race day. Whether you're swimming in a tri suit, a sports bra and shorts, or a bathing suit, make sure you get in the water in your outfit at least once before the race, even if it's just to do a few laps in the pool. "My first race I wore a sports bra that ballooned with water, making it very uncomfortable to swim, and then it totally chafed me afterward," Kreideweis recalls. If you're large chested, try wearing two tops for extra support.Remember you've got safety nets.
If you feel overwhelmed or can't catch your breath while in the water, swim over to one of the many volunteers who are likely to be stationed along the course in boats. "Most races won't penalize you if you stop, so take a few moments to calm down," Kreideweis says. When you start again, distract yourself from negative thoughts by counting your strokes from buoy to buoy, singing a song in your head, or picturing yourself crossing the finish line.
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