Triathlon Swimming: How to Exit the Water Faster
Swimming is widely considered the most daunting and challenging part of a triathlon. For many competitive triathletes, the goal is to exit the water as quickly as possible to gain an edge over the competition.
While training and technique are key, so are having the right gear and equipment to maximize speed. Here are several tips and performance upgrades that triathletes can use to improve their swim times during a triathlon event.
Leverage a Triathlon Suit
A triathlon suit, or tri suit, is a specially designed one-piece suit that's worn during the swim, bike, and run portions of a triathlon. In a wetsuit legal event, you can wear your wetsuit over the top of the triathlon suit, making it an easy transition when you exit the water. Compared to using conventional swimwear, a tri suit can be beneficial, especially for time savings.
A triathlon suit is typically made from a quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabric that can help keep you cool and dry after exiting the swim. It can also provide additional pockets and utility once you’re on the bike and the run leg, which can help with fuel storage.
Invest in a Good Triathlon Wetsuit or Swim Skin
A good triathlon wetsuit or swim skin can help improve your swim efficiency and reduce drag in the water, which can help you swim faster. Wetsuits are typically made from neoprene, which provides insulation and helps keep you warm in cold water. They’re also made from neoprene which provides buoyancy and helps keep you more streamlined.
Not all triathlon events allow wetsuits, such as races located in warm weather climates. The alternative to wetsuits is swim skins, which are thinner suits that offer exceptional smoothness and glide in the water. Although swim skins do not offer the same level of buoyancy as wetsuits, they can improve speed in the water, thereby helping you exit sooner and race faster. Both options in a range of thicknesses and styles, so it's important to choose one that fits well and is comfortable to wear.
Practice Open-Water Swim Sighting
Open-water swim sighting involves lifting your head out of the water periodically to check your location and direction. This can help you swim in a straight line and avoid getting off course, which can waste time and energy. Practice sighting in the pool or in open water before your triathlon event to get comfortable with this technique.
Get Comfortable with Drafting in the Water
Drafting in the water is similar to drafting on the bike, and it can help reduce drag and improve your swim speed. To draft in the water, follow the bubbles trailing closely behind another swimmer and stay in their slipstream.
This can help you conserve energy during the early stages of a long event. It's important to practice this technique in open water with other swimmers before your event, so as to get familiar with how it feels.
Train Intervals in the Pool
Training intervals in the pool can help improve your swim speed and endurance. Intervals involve swimming at a high intensity for a short period of time, followed by a rest period. This can help improve your anaerobic capacity and increase your overall swim speed.
Don't Go Cheap on Triathlon Goggles
It's important to invest in a good pair of triathlon goggles that fit well and provide clear vision in the water. Cheap goggles can fog up easily, leak, or cause discomfort, which can slow you down and affect your performance.
So when it comes to a $20 pair and a $40 pair of swimming goggles, oftentimes the more expensive option is worth it. Also, be sure to look at the sizes and designs to assess what types of triathlon goggles will best fit your face.
Prioritize Technique Over Volume
While it's important to build up your swim endurance and speed through training, it's also important to prioritize technique. Focus on improving your form and efficiency in the water, rather than just increasing your volume or distance. This can help you swim faster and with less effort, which can ultimately lead to a faster exit time from the water. Consider working with a swim coach to identify areas for improvement in your technique and form.
Incorporating these tips and performance upgrades into your training routine can help you improve your swim times during a triathlon event. Remember to choose equipment and techniques that work best for your specific needs and preferences, and to practice regularly to build your skills and confidence in the water. With dedication and effort, you can become a faster and more efficient triathlon swimmer.