The swim leg of a triathlon is often the one discipline that people dread the most. Sportsister took to the water with world champion open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne to find out her top tips to improve your swimming style.
1. If you have decided to do an open water swim or a triathlon why not get a friend involved too?
It makes training so much easier if you have someone to do it with and it will be a great achievement for you both do it together!
2. Wetsuits – make sure you have the right size wetsuit and that you have tried it out in training before you do your open water race.
Practise getting it on and off as you’ll need to remove it as quickly as possible in your first transition. Don’t always assume that the most expensive wetsuit is going to be the best one for you.
Choose one suitable for your level of ability, as high end suits are designed for very strong swimmers. Beginners’ suits will offer more buoyancy.
3. The night before a race can be a bit of a nerve racking time and it may be easy to skip your dinner but DO NOT do this, try your best to get something down, even if it’s your favourite cereal or a couple slices of toast. A carb heavy meal isn’t always necessary.
On the morning of the race, again you may not want to eat but the worst thing you can do is miss breakfast! That will ruin all your hard work and training because you will have no energy for the race. Stay away from milk at this time and stick to toast.
If you really are struggling to eat then you can empty a carbohydrate gel pack into your drinks bottle and keep sipping away at it until your race. This is not a substitute to food and I would always recommend food over this but it is a help!
4. If you are racing in cold water, make sure you get in the water before you race and fully submerge yourself. This is very important because it gives your body time to acclimatise to the temperature and it also gives your wetsuit time to do its job which is to keep your body warm!
I would recommend doing this about five minutes before your race if you can.
5. At the start of an open water race or triathlon you usually start in the water.
- If you are a novice and slightly apprehensive about the start I would recommend that you stick to the sides or the back of the pack for the start. You will soon find your rhythm and be in the swing of it without a black eye!
- If you are an expert then go straight to the front of the pack and get into your ‘start’ position as soon as you can (sculling with your feet just breaking the surface of the water) other people are less likely to push and shove if your feet are in their face!
Keri-Anne Payne is a Speedo athlete and was leading the Speedo Secret swim at Virgin Active’s Broadgate club as part of the Virgin Active London Triathlon Secret Series of training events.
Sportsister, The Women’s Sports Magazine