Mistake No. 4: Not Getting Into Open Water Enough
Getting into open water is often an afterthought for new triathletes; they have enough to deal with just learning how to swim in a controlled pool environment, never mind water with a current or waves. But getting into open water six to eight times before your first triathlon is critical to being comfortable when it comes time to race.
Think about how tough the first few swims were in the pool; the first few open water swims will likely be pretty difficult, too, because it's such a different environment. So, get into open water before your race, and give yourself a chance to get as comfortable as possible.
Mistake No. 5: Not Using a Wetsuit in the Race
New triathletes might feel too intimidated to use a wetsuit, thinking it's only for people who "take triathlon seriously" or they want to save money.
A wetsuit provides buoyancy and warmth, adding to the safety of a swimmer in the race. Given how the swim is the biggest fear of most new triathletes, there's no good reason not to use a wetsuit if one is allowed. There are many cheap wetsuits available online, and if someone doesn't continue doing triathlons after their first race, they can often sell their wetsuit for close to what they paid for it.
Mistake No. 6: Not Getting Used to Your Wetsuit
If you choose to use a wetsuit, make sure the first time you use it is not in your race. Not only do you need to get used to the wetsuit, but the wetsuit also needs to be in water to loosen up.
Ideally, use the wetsuit you'll wear on race day in at least six open water swims before your race. If you can't use the wetsuit this much, at least get it wet two or three times in the shower before the race to allow it to loosen up.
Mistake No. 7: Poor Positioning at the Swim Start
Finally, a lot of new triathletes think they have no choice but to swim in the mass chaos of the swim start.
Instead, new triathletes will have a better race if they position themselves off to the side of the swim start, away from the chaos. Or, let the chaos swim out ahead, simply waiting an extra four or five seconds before starting the swim. I guarantee those few extra seconds, or the few extra feet you have to swim if you start off to the side, will be cancelled out by the benefit you'll receive from being able to swim calmly without bodies crashing into you.
The swim is intimidating and hard for new triathletes, but know you're not alone. Nearly every triathlete has gone through the same swim struggles you may be going through. With the right advice you'll get over the new triathlete swimming hump and be able to move onto the next thing you want to excel at in the sport.
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