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Swim Segment, Where To Start?

The nerves begin weeks before the race. You are worried about the beginning of the triathlon, the swim. There can be as many as two hundred people in a wave start. The ironman distance races start as many as 1500 people at once. The gun goes off and there is a massive churning of bubbles. So where should you start?

If you are a beginner and you don’t have much confidence in your swim, then you should start behind other competitors. In doing so, you reduce the possibility of being swum over or pummeled with other’s elbows, hands and feet. You are probably unfamiliar with open water swimming so you can follow the trail of bobbing heads to each turn buoy. However, look up every once in a while to make sure those swimmers are going in the right direction. I have known some people to swim as much as 500 meters off course in a 1500 meter swim.

If you are a swimmer who has great stroke technique and you don’t like to get tangled up with other bodies, then you should start on the side of the wave. In doing so, you have “clean” water where you can use your swim technique to get you in or near the lead. The disadvantage to this is that you may have to swim a little further to the first turn buoy. However, if you avoid the mass of bodies, then you might go faster than the main body of swimmers.

If you are a quick starter and you have the endurance to maintain your pace, then the center and most direct route to the first buoy is the best position. A person can save as much as thirty percent of his energy by drafting off a person who is equal to him in ability. If you know your competitors, then try to start next to someone faster than yourself. That way you can get on that individuals feet and draft off him throughout the swim at a faster pace than what you could do yourself.

One thing to be prepared for is to accept the possibility that another person will probably accidentally hit you. If you are prepared for it, then you won’t be so shocked if it happens. A great drill for a swim start is to get three other swimmers at swim practice. You all line up in the same lane and sprint to the other end after starting at the same time. This close contact is pretty close to race simulation.

© Wes Hobson Performance Inc.