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Suggestion for starting too fast in Open Water

  • At the start of a triathlon or open water swim race, many people quickly become uncomfortable, and perhaps, even anxious, and don't understand it because they know have trained for this and feel they are in shape to do it. Many of these feelings are quite often due to simply starting out swimming too fast. Part of this is because of the excitement and, perhaps nervousness that we feel at the beginning of a race, and part of it is that many of us train and practice in a pool. In a pool, our bodies (and heads) understand the relative distance to the wall, whether it be 25 yards, 25 meters, or 50 meters, so we understand the effort level and speed we are comfortable swimming to get us to that point, even if we are turning around immediately when we get there. In open water, this is very different. We have a harder time measuring our speed and effort level, during the chaos of the swim start, and looking out at the buoys. We don't have that "distance constancy" that we are used to in a pool. It's always a good idea to practice in open water, but if this is not practical, you CAN simulate, in a pool, what it feels like to purposely start out too fast, and learn to recover.

    During a workout, try the following set at least 3 times: Swim a 200 as follows: start with a very fast 50, followed by a steady 50, then followed by an easy 100, using the easy 100 as a recovery. The first time through, you should hate it, but realize during that easy 100, that you CAN recover. The second time through you should begin to understand how and why to do it, and by the third time, you should understand the feelings, so that if it happens during the start of a race, you will recognize that feeling and KNOW that you can get past it while still moving forward. You may even decide that this is a way to get away from the chaos, and purposefully start out fast, knowing that you can back off and recover while you're swimming, and then find a race pace to settle into. I'd suggest throwing this set into several workouts.

  • This is great, thank you so much for sharing.

    I was on a triathlon team a few years ago and you wouldn't believe how many talented athletes got intimidated by the open water swim. I wish I could have shared this with them.

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