The swim is my favorite! Cold water is not, so if you were there, you probably heard me squeal as I jumped into 68 degree spring fed water.
I started at a fast pace (which also helped me warm up) and after a few minutes, I relaxed my body and settled into a steady pace. I find it easier to start out fast and settle, than to start out slow and try to pick it up…mostly because I don’t want to pick up the pace and then I swim slower than planned. I’ve learned what works best for me. My data showed I averaged 1:27/100yd! Not bad for only swimming 1x per week! I was pleasantly surprised! Goes to show that CrossFit really does help with developing strength and fitness.
The swim start was a rolling start with triathletes going every 5 to 10 seconds. We were instructed to line up with fast swimmers up front. Let me share some advice (I’m a coach, that’s what I do). 2:00 per 100 pace is a good pace, but it’s not the fast they are referencing. What they mean are triathletes that can swim faster than 1:30 per 100yd… and then 1:35 and 1:40…and so on. When in doubt, ask several people around you to make sure you’re in the right spot. You might be fast, but make sure you’re not in front of someone who’s faster. Speed is relative. Plus talking to others is a great way to spark conversation and meet new friends. I met an awesome (now professional triathlete) years ago during a swim start and we still communicate at races and through social media. I digress…a lot of people rushed to the front and I was about the 20th person in line. After I jumped in, I was immediately passing athletes left and right, some of which were barely moving. Please heed this advice in all swim starts, especially pool swim triathlons. I share this for your enjoyment and safety and for those around you.
I felt really strong in the swim. I focused on form. It’s easy to stop rotating the body when you’re peeking your eyes up to sight and it’s easy to neglect a strong catch phase, so I focused on both and felt smooth and efficient.
I consider myself fortunate that I learned how to swim as a child and was a competitive swimmer for many years. If you are someone who did not get that opportunity, there is hope for you! Keep practicing and give yourself grace. Swimming takes a long time to master. I see too many triathletes get frustrated because they aren’t improving as quickly as they would like. I find it’s usually caused by comparing themselves to others and setting unrealistic goals. Comparison steals joy. Focus on you and only you and you’ll be proud of every accomplishment.
I don’t just depend on course buoys to help me swim a straight line, I also use landmarks. So before I jump in, I like to look at trees, buildings, cell towers, etc that line up with the buoys. So in case I can’t see the buoys, I have something else to help me. When I made a left turn at the last buoy to head to the swim finish, I could not see because of the sun blaring in my eyes. I noticed an athlete in front of me swimming a straight line, so I took a risk and put faith in his ability to swim a straight line to the finish. So to save energy and push pace, I followed the bubbles from his feet and drafted off of him. It worked! Saved energy and got to pick up my pace and swam a straight line to the finish! Work smarter, not harder!
Up next is the bike and run race report.