It is the London Triathlon this weekend, an event I hold dear since it was my first Triathlon 20years ago exactly. It launched a long and enjoyable career that took me to Ironman Lake Placid and South Africa, World Triathlon AG events in Edmonton and Cancun and then onto pure Openwater swimming events. All of this came together with a desire to coach, help people and contribute to the world of Triathlon and so SwimforTri was born soon after.
There is a lot to this particular event, the unusual exit to the swim, the intimidating high sided walls , the odd taste to the water, grey landscape and the length of the docks. They seem to go on forever, making you feel in your head like you are not making progress. There are enough things that can play out of your control so do your best to be in control of as many controllables as you can. So far this week at lessons with just a few days to go people are still struggling to stop goggles from leaking, wetsuits from chafing. Stop swapping kit and trying new things <if they work> at this late stage. Start to pay attention to the details now and read the literature available on the website.
Don’t be asking fellow competitors in transition how many laps it is, there are many different race scenarios through the weekend and that friendly neighbour might be telling you his race details which might not be yours. Know the direction you are swimming, any useful sighting vantage points?, how many laps? which colour are the turn buoys? what colour are the ones you travel straight past. Often the corners of a rectangular course are different to the mid point markers helping you not turn early. Might it not be wetsuit? do you need a tow float if that is the case? will it be sunny or overcast? light or dark goggles? should you leave your hat and goggles on your head while you take off your wetsuit? they could get stuck in your wetsuit sleeve while stuffing your suit into the plastic bag they hand out. If you have wetsuit in one hand <in its plastic bag> and hat&goggles in the other are you comfortable running up stairs without holding the bannister? Where did you leave your bike!
This is one of the few races where regardless of the time you arrive you can watch many competitors starting in the waves ahead of you. If you arrive early and give yourself plenty of time. You can see the mistakes being made. Sorry if you are in the first few waves on Saturday, this excludes you and some might be watching so please prove me wrong and get it all done correctly! Watch and learn. A few years ago I was racing the OW champs in Norwich and my uncle came to watch. Bill is a keen fisherman and suggested I avoid a certain stretch that was on the racing line. He offered that due to the ducks and swans feeding there, the weed was high and we might get tangled in it while swimming over it. I watched the earlier waves and sure enough. I swam around it and dropped the swimmers near me on the home stretch. Watch how others swim around the course, is something leading them astray? a current? a sighting point on the course that is not actually right on the racing line and you might be better staying to the left/right of it. Be careful of those slower swimmers on their second lap as you start your race right right behind them, be careful of your fingers as you overtake especially of those swimming breaststroke. The slightly congested conditions present certain challenges you might not have experienced before. I led out of the water back in 1998 and this I did not expect from my first race and at that point as I then exited Transition minutes behind the new leader I wish I had read some instructions.