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16386 Views 17 Replies Latest reply: Jan 7, 2012 6:45 AM by WellBeing1 1 2 Previous Next
Healeycam Amateur 11 posts since
Dec 21, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 7, 2011 7:20 PM

Swimming etiquette

I am coming up on my first Sprint Tri in about a month and I am very excited.  I have heard a bit of disgeraging news however from a fellow triathlete.  He told me that during the swimming portion of his first triathlon he was "RUN" over twice.  The second instance literally drove him under the water which caused him to inhale water and begin to vomit.  He had to stop swimming and basically 5 months of training came to an abrupt end after only 5 minutes of competing.


Is this normal and if so, as a rookie, how can I avoid this from happening to me?


Thanks for the help,

  • GreaterNYSports Rookie 1 posts since
    Jun 8, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jun 8, 2011 6:09 AM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    Hi!  I competed in my first Sprint-Tri 6 years ago, and my 2nd one this past weekend.  My sister and I were told the same thing, but it certainly was not our experience.  People start off close, and yes, you may get bumped into a bit, but you should not be submerged into the water!  I guess it depends on the Tri and how organized the event is.  The Pawling Tri sends competitors out in waves of 50 swimmers ... at 2-minute intervals, so it really spreads out once you've swam out a bit.  Do NOT let this discourage you!  If you are worried about it, try to position yourself to the far right or left of the group ... or stay near the back. 


    And remember, when you cross the finish line, you will have become a "T-R-I-A-T-H-L-E-T-E!"  It's an awesome feeling and feat ... All the best!  Maureen

  • Joe_h1 Community Moderator 1,833 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Jun 8, 2011 1:25 PM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    if you're not a strong/fast swimmer start towards the back and outside of the crowd and even give them a 15 sec head start so you avoid the traffic jam/rugby scrim.  You can do this - no problem!

    goals for 2011:

    break 19minutes for 5k

    break 2:42 for olympic triathlon probably Anthracite olympic

    break 3:16 for marathon ( a long shot but it's fun putting yourself out there)

  • IronMakeover Community Moderator 738 posts since
    Jul 7, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jun 9, 2011 7:43 AM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    Hey there,

    I'm glad you're excited - a month to go to your first tri is an exciting place to be!


    As the other members said, plan on starting to the back/outside of the pack of your wave. And, take 10 seconds, or enough time for the pack to clear out if you'd like (though it's hard to fight the adrenaline rush at the start!)


    I'd plan on having some contact, bumping, whether accidental or not during the swim. I have been kicked, scratched, elbowed on purpose, and another woman I know had a man swim across her whole length from bottom to top! That type of behavior is NOT required to race/compete/finish a tri of any distance. This is swimming.


    I hope you'll keep us updated on your race prep & experience!

    :-) Sara

    Sara Cox Landolt

  • Moriates Legend 292 posts since
    Jul 19, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jun 14, 2011 3:19 PM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    Try to stay back and/or wide.  But I will tell you, you will still get bumbed.  Have fun and keep your composure.



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  • perrbr Rookie 6 posts since
    Jun 25, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jun 24, 2011 7:16 PM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    I agree with everyone else that is important to position yourself in the wave according to your swim speed. If you think you will be slower, you should start toward the back, but it is just as important that the strong swimmers start out in front since otherwise they will be the ones trying to climb over you.

    There is usually going to be some bumping, but most racers aren't going to swim over you or anything. Just try to be aware of your surroundings. Hopefully the people really going after the swim will be in the elite group that goes first. Good luck, and have fun!

  • LoraLiu Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 5, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Jul 5, 2011 11:09 AM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    My sister and I are training together, so I'm hoping that the bumping I'm used to from my sister will help me be used to it for the race. Maybe you could practice swimming with a group a few times just to see what it's like.

  • JoshuaHickey Amateur 12 posts since
    Sep 15, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Aug 6, 2011 7:15 AM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    1) Starting position - slower swimmers are responsible for positioning themselves toward the back during a mass open water start or for a pool start seek the slower lane.  Your race director should be providing this guidance at the start of the race.  If not, email the race director &/or ask the question to ensure this gets announced at the races you attend.


    2) Drafting - drafting is legal during the swim leg so partner up.  Being next to each other, you won't have some random on your heels and this can provide your friend some re-assurance next time for a positive experience.  You mine as well pay attention the people you line up next too and decide if their are friends or foe as you inevitably will be swimming in close proximity to each other.


    3) Race number - identify the person's race # on them.  Remind them your really competing against yourself this sport is not aimed at physical contact to take out your competitor.  Typically people stick around after the event so the social aspect and your feedback on the incident could lead to better etiquette for that individuals behavior. 

  • Kyle J Ferguson Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 1, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Aug 25, 2011 11:08 AM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    I just completed my 3rd Tri this past weekend, and I still haven't gotten used to the swimming congestion. Whether it's a beach start or a water start, it can be pretty chaotic. However, I've never been hurt and short of a couple embarrassing moments (I slapped a guy pretty hard on the backside this week) it's been a good experience. Best of luck.

  • William Connelly Rookie 6 posts since
    May 7, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Aug 26, 2011 8:36 AM (in response to Kyle J Ferguson)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    I try to do 4-5 sprint tri's each summer for the last 4 years - late bloomer here, so I'm none too fast on the swim.  I, too, heard scare stories about people swimming right over me and getting mouthfuls of water.  Fortunately, all of the pre-race open water training sessions (both running stores and the University occasionally run series of workshop/clinics around here) focused on "crowd survival" so I had an idea what it might be like.  The post that said practice with someone else swimming along side nearby was right - it'll help.  I was scared ___less at my first open water swim (I dog-paddled most of it) and did get bumped into a few times, but nothing serious.  All the posts about choosing your starting point and staying wide of the main group, whatever your speed, are also good advice.  I always start towards the middle/rear of my wave, and swim a little wide of the main cluster.  Haven't been swamped yet, and I've learned to roll with the occasional toe or butt slap.  If you're like me you'll probably only add a minute or so onto your swim time, easily made up on your bike (or even in transitions if you're careful).  Good luck and don't stop "tri-ing"!  Trust me - it's worth it!!

  • BT.ROB Legend 270 posts since
    May 12, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Aug 26, 2011 9:34 AM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    The advice about staying wide is mathematically relevant. For us math geeks, let's look at the situation like this: if you start 30 yards outside of the main pack and the first buoy is 300 yards out (assuming everyone swims straight) you are only swimming an extra 1.5 yards (A-squared + B-squared = C-squared). Probably better than giving up 15 seconds of waiting after the horn goes off.



  • lvziggy Amateur 18 posts since
    May 4, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Sep 29, 2011 2:42 PM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    I just completed my 2nd tri last weekend.  Figuring I was a weak swimmer I started out toward the back of the pack.  But, I found myself coming up to slower swimmers who were in MY way!  Not being a strong swimmer I had a hard time getting around them.  And talk about swimming etiquette, there should be a rule about how much room 1 person can take up with their unconventional kicks and strokes.  There was one girl who was on her back but she wasn't doing a back stroke.  I can only describe it as a frog kick and general floundering.  She kicked her legs out to the side and took up the space 2 swimmers would normally be in!  So, with slower swimmers on both sides of the frog kicker, there was no way I could get around them.  It was sort of frustrating, but at the same time I took a little comfort in knowing there were slower swimmers than me!   Next time I'm going to try starting out a little closer to the front of the pack, but maybe off to the side so the really fast ones get out ahead of me right away.

  • JerseySeeker Rookie 4 posts since
    Feb 15, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Dec 19, 2011 2:13 PM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    My first triathlon was an Olympic open ocean water.  I was terrified by the swim start but it turned out much better than I thought.  I've got 6 under my belt now and the start is always interesting but no fear.  The advice I was given was:

    • It's your first triathlon.  Focus on your first PR but don't stress yourself out by trying to win your age group in your first race. 
    • Go wide and/or back at the start.  The best advice ever.  I ended up passing a lot of people but didn't get mixed up in the scrum of the mass start.  Huge mental relief.
    • You will get bumped - Don't take it too personally.  The other person does not want to drown either.


    @ BT.RUB - loved your triangulation math.  Glad to know the go wide strategy has little to no impact on my race time!!

    @ lvziggy - you’re "Frog" stroke swimmer made me laugh.  I've been behind "That guy" a few times.


    Good luck!

  • Julie Ann Hackett Legend 226 posts since
    Nov 20, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Dec 21, 2011 12:46 PM (in response to Healeycam)
    Re: Swimming etiquette

    I was lucky that when I started swim training for triathlon I was swimming with a group of people who were familiar with open water swims.  While we swam in the lake they took every opportunity to bump me, swim over me, and create an authentic triathlon swim experience.  I learned to ignore whatever was going on around me and just continue to swim.  If you have never done a tri before and you have some friends you trust, its definitly worth trying to create your own chaotic swim so you can just ignore and focus on race day.

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