3 Steps to a Panic-Free Triathlon Swim Start

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The swim start can be a pretty scary part of any triathlon and with good reason. If you're like most triathletes then your swim training is primarily focused on improving your freestyle swim stroke. One key aspect to an efficient freestyle stroke is to minimize drag by looking down and slightly forward while you swim.

That means you spend most of your time not looking where you're going. Not a big deal when you're doing laps in the clear pool water. But when you add poor underwater visibility at many venues and anywhere from a few dozen to a couple of thousand other competitors, all bets are off.

So what can you do to keep the swim start from ruining your big day? The number one thing you can do is come prepared. This article's going to cover three key areas to help focus your swim training so you can enjoy your day from the moment the gun goes off.

More: 5 Secrets of the Triathlon Swim

Confidence Comes with Competency

If you don't know how to swim then you're in over your head from the start. No matter what precautions the race director takes, it's unlikely you're going to feel comfortable in the water. The fact is you entered a race that begins with a swim and it's your responsibility to come ready to cover the distance. So if you can't swim or have minimal skills then the first step to becoming confident is to crank up your competence.

? Personal lessons can quickly jump-start your swim training: Nothing is more effective than some one-on-one coaching when it comes to the swim. It's a highly technical sport because it takes place in an unstable environment so just trying harder won't do. A swim coach with a video camera can help you identify problem areas and get you focused on the right technique drills to correct them.

? Skill comes from technique drills: Technique drills should be built into every swim session. Early in the season it's particularly important because you can focus on your swim stroke without the pressure of preparing for an upcoming race.

Swim drills come in two different flavors. The first is body position drills that get you streamlined in the water. These drills consist primarily of kick on-side drills and focus on getting you long and narrow in the water. If you have a weak kick it's best to get a pair of short fins, like Zoomers, to help move you through the water. The second type of drill is power drills. Single arm, catch-up, and fist drills are some of the most common. The goal here is to build your distance per stroke by focusing on how your arm moves through the water in conjunction with rest of your body, particularly your hips.

More: 3 Common Misconceptions in Freestyle