For example, if you can hold 1:50's in the pool, then you should be able to hold 2:00's in open water. If you are doing an Ironman (3,800 meter swim) multiplying a 2:00/100-meter pace by 38 = 1:16:00. As you improve, the difference between your pool pace and open water pace will diminish. You will probably go faster than your goal time if you set it this way, but you should not do so by swimming harder - do it by swimming smarter.
You need to make yourself as efficient as possible by practicing good technique. While improvement can be measured by faster times, it can also be indicated through the same elapsed time with less effort or a lower heart rate. This leaves more reserves for the bike and run legs of the triathlon, and should result in an overall faster race.
When you arrive at the race site and you have finished setting up your transition areas, looked over the run and bike legs, and everything else is set, head for the swim course and warm-up. As you swim, look around for navigation landmarks to your right, left, front and back for all parts of the course. Think about the sun, and if it will cause any difficulties. Goggles, cap, and wetsuit feel ok, or do you need to make a few adjustments before the race begins? Anything chaffing - put on some more skin lubricant (remember not to use Vaseline type products with a wetsuit).
Now you have to line up for the start. If you are not sure where to place yourself, line up to the outside towards the front of the pack. It is easier to drift back into your pace than to work up through a thick mass of splashing, wetsuit garbed triathletes. Go the first few 50 to 100 meters at a fast but still comfortable pace, then settle into your rhythm for the rest of the swim. Check your landmarks every 5 to 25 strokes (depends on how confident you are in your ability to swim in a straight line) while swimming; at the start or finish of a breath, look forward if needed to check your course.
As you move along the course, do a few spot checks for good technique - body roll, long and strong strokes, relaxed feeling on the recovery of each arm. You must also remember to keep your pace in that fast but comfortable zone you have trained at all of this time; don't let yourself ease up too much and drop below it, and never let yourself become a thrashing fury out there. Stay controlled, relaxed, and think easy and smooth. Before you know it, you will be on the shore, heading for the bike and the rest of the race.
- Tips For Triathletes On Training And Racing The Swim Leg Of A Triathlon
- Determine a Goal Time for Your Triathlon Swim
- Triathlon Training Plan Examples