The swim ought to feel like a good effort, but also a bit relaxed, allowing you to move through the water with the least expenditure of energy. The swim must be fast enough to get you to the bike leg in a reasonable amount of time, depending on your personal goals for the race. The swim must be controlled, so you keep a feeling of confidence throughout the leg, staying positive leading in to the transition and bike portion of the event.
Swimming efficiently and within your limits will accomplish all of these goals. Design a training plan that allows you to complete three to four swimming workouts each week A few things to remember for the training plan:
- All workouts should include a warm-up and cool-down.
- All workouts should include some swimming technique work.
- One or two workouts should be primarily easy swimming with low rest (heart rate at 60% to 70% of max - base endurance).
- One workout should include a set at a sustained good effort level (a qualified "fast as you can go at steady pace " for the entire swim - threshold).
- One workout should include some faster shorter work with more rest between repeats (you might call it VO2Max work). This is not as important as longer swims or threshold swims for most beginers.
- Do regular open water sessions, if possible, to practice navigation techniques.
- If you will be using a wetsuit, kicking is minor or a non-existent part of the swim.
- Make a list of what you need for the swim:
- racing suit or cycling shorts
- anti-fog drops
- triathlon specific wetsuit (if allowed)
- anti-chafe lubricant
- water bottle to stay hydrated before the start
- watch or heart rate monitor
- plan to use these things in some of your practices.
- Do some portion of some of your swims with a wetsuit if you will be using one in your event.
- Do some transition workouts (complete a swim at a good effort, then change to your cycling gear and hit the pavement for a spin).
- Have someone watch you swim and listen to their critique of your technique; discuss what you want to look like first, then they can tell you if you are achieving it.