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The Tri-ingAthletes Guide to Questions You should really ask. Part 1 - The Swim

We are intending to start a series of blogs about things that seem so obvious to the well acquainted and yet may be the thing we didn't know we didn't know. So some well pointed questions will undoubtedly free you from some potential embarrassment or world rocking epic fails. Through our own experiences Jane – Magnetic Island Crossing, Green Island and Lake Argyle 20K swim and I (Priscilla) 70.3 and Ironman, with a little guidance from the friendly coaches of NQTA, will attack these topics for you.

There are many things in life that we approach and take on with our eyes wide open; knowing exactly what we are in for, what the end result is likely to be and how to get from start to finish. Triathlons are not in this category. We think we have a pretty good idea to start with. We choose an event, usually based on the length of the race, the location, proximity to home and cost. We know there will be months of training and that, on the day, we will give it all we have and, if all goes to plan, cross the finish line on a natural high.

There is no one size fits all answer

What we don’t know about are the hundreds of little things that we will encounter along the way that we don’t expect: the mental training days, the questions, the hurdles, the aches and pains, the chafe! Oh, the chafe in the most random places! But it’s not just the tri newbies who encounter new difficulties along the way. Even after years of training and competing, there are things that we will encounter that will be new to us. Things that we don’t know how to solve, fix or overcome. So, where do we get the answers to these questions? How do we tackle the issues we are dealing with?

Oh, the chafe in the most random places!

In our quest for the best and most awkward questions for newbies and those transitioning to long-course events we have discovered is there is no such thing as common knowledge. This is no common sport! However, it’s a safe bet that if one person has asked the question, there’s probably someone else out there wondering the same thing! And let’s be honest, some questions are embarrassing to ask! Especially if your coach or training buddies are the opposite sex. We will be tackling some women specific ones in the weeks to come and guys there is some stuff for you too.

On the count down to Cairns Ironman we are going to tackle each discipline individually. Ask those cringe worthy questions and see what comes out. We’ve sought professional advice from our team of amazing coaches as well as drawing on our own experiences and the advice from a few long course legends Our hope is that the information provided here will help to ease some minds and make your event day easier, less stressful and a lot of fun!


If I can just make it through the swim, I’ll be alright

The dirty word of triathlon. The one leg of the entire race that is dreaded by most athletes. “If I can just make it through the swim, I’ll be alright”! How many times have we heard that phrase?! Many of us will stand looking at the swim start and wondering what the heck we have gotten ourselves into. The swim is the beginning of our epic day that we have worked so hard to get to, so why do we hate it so much? It should be a time when you can clear your mind and start to focus on the day ahead of you. Kick, stroke, breathe….? After months of swim training without any problems, why do we get to that moment and panic? We head out too fast, our heart rate gets out of control, we cannot breathe and then genuinely wonder if we are going to make it out of the water. Don’t panic, the fear, anxiety, excitement or nerves are pretty normal, whether it’s your first or 31st race.

Wetsuits Not all wetsuits are made equal

Q. Do I need a wetsuit?

A. Whilst it’s not mandatory, it is highly recommended for several reasons. In cooler water temperatures, it helps to insulate you and keep you warm. It improves your buoyancy in the water and helps reduce drag, which improves your energy conservation, giving you more for the bike and run legs. It can improve your speed by 3-7% as well, which means you get out of the water and onto the bike faster. So, if your event allows it, why wouldn’t you?!

Q. What kind do I need?

A. There are so many different styles, types, makes and models out there now it can be completely overwhelming! Choosing the right wetsuit is very individual. Take into account water temperature, your ability and comfort in the water and how long your swim event will be. In the tropics, wetsuits are often optional even if the water temp is trending towards the warmer end simply because events like Cairns are held so close to the end of the stinger season. The consensus is that it’s safer to wear a wetsuit than chance a sting from a rogue stinger that’s hanging around at the end of the season. The most important thing before you buy one is that you make sure your wetsuit fits and is comfortable. You don’t want one that will be too restrictive, fatigue your arms before you’ve reached the halfway point or squeezes you so tight you feel like passing out! The prices of wetsuits varies a lot. Unless you are an exceptional swimmer or very competitive, there are many entry level suits on the market that will suit you and work well for buoyancy, safety and speed on race day. As you progress through your triathlon career you can upgrade to a sleeker, more hydrodynamic fit, however, in the beginning you probably won’t notice the difference between a $200 and $1200 suit.

Q. Sleeves or no Sleeves?

A.What a question. It is personal preference based on your budget and stroke style. Sleeves will initially feel quite restrictive until you become accustom to them. Some brands tend to have a thinner wall material (smaller mm) around the shoulder area that improves the fit and function of the suit. Another thing to consider is the feel of the water on your forearm. A sleeved suit will limit this, and your stroke will feel different in the water. If you’re uncertain which one you prefer, get some suited practice in before you decide which one to buy.

Q.Is neckline important?

A. Seems strange right