Preparing For the Swim

by Justin Smith

Congratulations on your interest in triathlon. These pointers are intended to give you a little nugget of knowledge to help you in your first or fiftieth race. The swim leg comes first and typically takes the least amount of time, but requires the greatest amount of attention to technique and pacing of the three disciplines. For this reason, it is important to remember a couple of key points before taking the plunge.

Be prepared – In every sport, athletes talk about preparation, physically and mentally, and how important it is to be ready on race day. For the swim, this includes being comfortable swimming the distance of the race, and ensuring your equipment is easy to find (swim cap, goggles- maybe an extra pair if the strap breaks, swimming suit). Lastly, look over the course, know when and where you need to be so you aren’t hustling around last minute.  Think ahead so you know where you will be going and what to do after the swim.

Relax – Everyone gets the pre-race nerves but don’t let your mind get the best of you. Use the time before the start to go through a routine, and do some stretching or loosen up to take your mind off things. Take a few long deep breaths before you are set to go, to help minimize the race start adrenaline. Make sure to take a few extra breaths during the first minutes of the race. This means breath every 3 or 4 strokes versus 6 or 8 before taking breaths. Exhale by blowing lots of bubbles and inhale even if you may not think you need a breath- by establishing a routine it helps you settle into a rhythm more quickly.

Most importantly have fun and concentrate on doing your best. Remember the race is not about being the first person to the first wall, or even the first out of the water, it is about spreading your effort out over all three disciplines. So have fun, accept the challenge, and enjoy yourself- we all learn through experience, so make this one to remember.

Justin Smith
Mills Middle School
AP Dolphins Coach