Triathlons – with pool swim

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  • Triathlons – with pool swim
  • damo2576

    How exactly does the pool swim work? Must be carnage?


    Widths. Can fit more people in that way. Just got to be able to count to a bigger number.


    There’s one in Nantwich which uses a pool. It’s split into lanes and you start in lane 1, go up and back then duck under to lane 2 where you do the same and carry on in the next lane. By the time you get to the last lane you’ve done your 500m.
    Actually seems to work OK although it can get a bit ‘busy’!


    Yep that’s right everyone jumps in together 😆

    Nah.. staggered start innit … based on the predicted time you have giving the organisers in advance.

    Don’t give your 750m time for a 400m or you’ll be in with all the middle aged women. Yes, I’ve done this… you get the added bonus of being the first across the line and leader in the “club house” for a while before the proper boyz n girl come through.

    Premier Icon njee20

    The one I did had an allocated start time based on your (self declared) estimated time. A counter taps you on the head with 2 lengths to go, then again when you were done. Was alright, biggest pain was having no idea where you were placed as the competitors are so staggered.


    It depends.

    Some will set each swimmer off at intervals (20-30s), you then swim up one side of a lane, then down the other. At the end of every other length you duck under the rope and do the same in the next lane. You finish the swim at the other side of the width you started.

    Others will allocate you a lane and set a swimmer off in each lane at an allocated start time. You then swim the required number of lengths in the same lane. Other swimmers will be set off in the same lane, but usually only a max of 4.

    You usually swim with people who are a similar ability as you to avoid congestion. So you input an estimate swim time.

    If you need to overtake or about to get overtaken the etiquette is to tap the person in fronts toes as you swim, then wait until the end of the length when they should let you pass. Although it can all be a bit different in the heat of the battle.

    Premier Icon tommyhine

    Often you get get one or two people who’ve backed themselves a bit to much when they enter there time and hold everyone up and refuse to move when you give them a tap though so ~I find practicing a couple of quick sprint overtakes where you really up the pace for 10 seconds is worthwhile.
    Also if you’re a really quite swimmer but your run or bike if not so good then you’re likely to get in about 30 minutes after the next last person.
    My wife did this, former national level swimmer but absolutely terrible on a bike and running so was in the second to last heat.


    ime people always get out the way if you tap them, but from my swimming days you can get past by grabbing their ankle and pulling them out the way, or just swimming over them as if they are not there.

    Premier Icon convert

    Ime swimming pool triathlons are a great first step or challenge for those after completing rather than competing. They only get uncivilised when people start getting competitive. It only takes one knobber (who can’t wait to the end of the length to get past a slower swimmer or refuses to yield if they are slower themselves) to make it a messy experience for everyone in the lane.


    My wife did a Triathlon with a pool swim and it was a staggered start with the pool split into lanes. There was still some passing etc. but I think they worked out the start times based on people’s predicted swim times so it wasn’t too bad.


    Looks like there are some triathlon people on here so slight hijack….I have never done a triathlon before, and have not really done any swimming since I was about 12 years old. I have signed up for the London triathlon with the swim in the dock, what do I need to do to not drown? Is swimming in a wetsuit really loads easier than proper swimming?


    It’s different enough to warrant spending some time learning and practicing. Skills like drafting, sighting, exiting etc. Also breathing can be harder depending on chop etc. Imagine 200 people all running in at same time, not as smooth as the pool!
    Loads of resources on line…


    Swimming in a Tri/swimming specific wetsuit is easier (but not loads) as they are designed to be buoyant (as well as warm) the same can’t be said of a surfing/diving/etc wetties.

    Premier Icon cu dubh


    If I was you I would get your pool swimming up to a reasonable standard before going open water. A sensible option is to join a tri club, they would also help you out with open water experience. They will probably have regular open water sessions once the weather picks up. Certinly the wetsuit gives additional buoyancy but if like me you are not a mega confident swimmer open water can feel a bit challenging so get some practice in before the day.


    pool swims tend to be 2 or 3 in a lane and the event starts witht he slowest swimmers off first. If they give you a predicted time to start then thats good, therwise there can be a bit of hanging around between registering , reace briefing and starting, up to 2-3 hours depending on size of field and how fast your swimming is.

    Premier Icon DaveRambo

    They vary but each event should explain.

    I’ve done pool swims where there a swimmer goes every 30 secs and you swim 4 lengths, under the lane guide 4 in the next lane, under the lane guide 4 in the third lane then out.

    Done some with 4 people at a time every 30 secs in their own lanes with a person counting who tells you when you’ve 2 left to do. Counting yourself can be very hard – I count in groups of 4 lengths (100m) otherwise I forget where I am after 6 lengths or so. I ended up buying a watch that counts for you so I didn’t need to worry about it.

    Sprint tri’s tend to be 400m = 16 lengths so not very far.

    Don’t go mad – far better to take a minute longer and get out feeling fine than try and do a PB and get out knackered.
    The swim is a very small part of the overall time you’ll take and feeling fresh will mean the bike leg will be far faster than any time you’ll save by caning it in the pool.
    If you get stuck behind someone don’t panic or go mad – you’ll only lose a few seconds and trying to sprint past isn’t worth it.

    Getting there early and watch is a big help on your first one – you get a good feel for how it works.

    Premier Icon windydave13

    +1 on what DaveRambo said.
    Depending which one yo’re doing they’ll usually put a float or board in the water when you have 2 lenghts left so if you do forget don;t worry.
    Also as above don’t push to the point where you’re going to passout, otherwise you’ll get intot he first transition and you won;t be able to focus on putting your bike kit on and before you know it, you’ve lost an extra 2mins in the transition compared to the 30s you gained in the swim.

    The key is just enjoy it.
    Out of interest which one you doing??



    Don’t give your 750m time for a 400m or you’ll be in with all the middle aged women.

    Equally don’t give a 400m time for a 500m pool swim. A few had done this in the triathlon I’d entered which meant I lapped people twice despite lanes being allocated on time.

    With staggered starts if you’re a good swimmer, but a poor runner you might be the last competitor to finish even if you are far from the slowest.


    I ended up in the fastest group in a staggered start, due to miscalculation by a friend, I spent the first half underwater but the pool was empty for the second half.

    I have signed up for the London triathlon with the swim in the dock

    holy moly, i swim two to three times a week, have done so for over a year, do a structured training sesh one night, and i’m feeling under prepared for a 400m tri swim in a pool in a few weeks!


    I have signed up for the London triathlon with the swim in the dock

    I did not see this earlier. I was in a very similar position 15 years ago, I couldn’t swim 2 lengths crawl without getting out of puff. However, once I had been told you breathe out underwater everything fell into place and I built up distance pretty quickly – I had three months. The dock is pretty flat water so as open water swims go it is very easy, although learning to sight is helpful. My first time I had to be pointed in the right direction by a canoeist, but the course is much easier to follow now. Don’t worry about drafting unless you become a good swimmer and take it easy* round the bouys – swim wide to avoid the mayhem – and you will be fine.

    It is worth trying out your wetsuit but don’t do this in a heated outside pool as I did. They do make you bouyant and really benefit swimmers like myself with lazy legs.

    Having said this, I was pretty scared at the start.

    * and at the start, concentrate on getting into a rhythm rather than trying to beat people as it can be frenetic.

    Premier Icon stever

    Pool tri I did I underestimated the draft you get from ahead. Line of 4 in a lane and I was getting frustrated being held up. Load of effort to get past people, then couldn’t get away and just dragged everyone along anyway. Numpty error.

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