Swim Tips From Helen Jenkins


Swim Tips for Beginner written by Suunto 2 x ITU World Champion Helen Jenkins

The swim is the most daunting part of the race for all athletes, elites, age group and beginners. Its where things can go wrong and its where most panic can happen. No one is immune to this.

Be prepared for every eventuality in the swim: you may get held under for a time, you may take on some water, you may get knocked a bit. If you are aware of all the possibilities that could happen then hopefully you won’t panic so much. If something goes wrong but you have thought about it and how you will react to it then you’ll be able to cope better. The best way to react to something that panics you in the swim is to try and relax, get to some clear water, compose yourself and get back into the race.

Remember…. Most people, like you are just trying to get through the swim, the odd idiot wants to fight but most people want to get through it the best they can!

Have a plan:

  • What time you will get your wetsuit on
  • Don’t put your wetsuit on with too much time to the start especially if it’s a hot day.
  • What time you will head down to the start?
  • How much warm up, if any, are you going to do?
  • Take a bottle of water with you to the start.

Know your Level:

  • Start position, if you are a competitive swimmer and confident then line yourself up with the masses towards the front.
  • If not, place yourself towards the back and out of the way to give yourself space.
  • The first few hundred meters is normally pretty hard with everyone getting into the race, it will calm down when everyone finds their level and gets into a rhythm.

Be responsible:

  • Keep sighting for the buoys when you can, don’t just follow the person in front.
  • Be aware of swimmers around you and try not to swim over their backs.
  • If, you find your hand on someone else’s shoulder, try not to push them back and just take a soft stroke.

Practice with all your kit:

  • As with the rest of your race, make sure you have tried all of your kit before the race
  • Don’t buy anything new for race day unless you have used the same product before
  • Even though you may have used your wetsuit before, practice putting it on and taking it off, it always seems a bit harder to do undo in the race when adrenaline is flowing, so the more practice, the smoother this will be

Good luck. Once the swim is over, the day usually gets better.


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