how does the pool swim work from a slow first timer

Hi everyone, i have just signed up to my first super sprint triathlon to try and dip my toe and see if triathlons are for me. I am currently doing a fair bit of running in preperation for the great south run and i cycle a bit and use the OH's turbo trainer when i think i may have eaten to much cake at work that day. So i am not to worried about those 2 disciplines although putting them back to back may take some getting used to.

My question is related to the fact swimming is my weakest point, i can complete the distance but it will be very slow and don't want to be holding people up. With  a pool swim do you just go up and down in a single lane or do you do laps? and will i be able to get out of the way if faster people are behind me. I have put myself in the slowest wave but still a bit concerned.

Any other tips for a smmoth first race would be very welcome.



  • Usually when you enter you will put a time that you expect to complete the distance in, you are then given a start time with people of a simialr time so that you dont have a mix
    I very much doubt you will do laps but the lane system will be fully explained to you before you start
    It would be a good diea to get there early and watch some of the other starters first 

  • I have experienced two types of swim starts.

    The first was where the fastest female went first and then the next slowest ten seconds after that and so on until all women were in the water, then the slowest man until all men were in. We swam 3 lengths in one lane, then went under the ropes and did three lengths in that lane and so on until we had 'crossed' the pool to get out. This way was a little scary as if you were a slow female swimmer, you tended tog et swum over by the slow men.

    I did another one last weekend where there were four of us per lane (ie 24 people in the pool at one time).  We were set off ten seconds apart.  The next wave did not start until we were all out of the water ie the pool was empty.  This appraoch worked really well as there was little chance of being swum over.

    Which Tri are you doing?  You could either post here or approach the race organisers to find out which way the handle the swim

  • Thanks for the replies, i'm doing the super sprint being held during the Bath multisport event hopefully i might get more info in due course i only entered a couple of days ago. 

  • A third type of swim start is where you swim laps staying in the same lane, and only one person per lane starts at the same time (so 6 or 8 people can start at once depending on how many lanes the pool is)
    The next wave of people start a couple of minutes later, and so on. In short swims, this means there should only be 3 or 4 people in a lane at any one time, but you are expected to give way to faster swimmers if they end up right behind you.

  • all the sprints i have ever done have been as pethead as said - you get assigned a lane and swim in that lane based on your predicted time, a new wave starts every 2 minutes 

  • once swimming, swim at your speed.  If there is a faster swimmer behind you they should tap your feet to let you know they are there.... let them past at the end of the length by pausing and then carry on.  Don't get flustered by the faster swimmers..  

  • Brilliant thanks for the info everyone, i have put myself in the slowest wave so should be ok. I've not swam in years but i can see improvements in my swimming already and i've only done 2 sessions so far, so fingers crossed it will all be good on the day.

    I bought a tri suit yesterday and know i need to swim in it before the day to get used to it but not sure i want to look like a weirdo at my local pool in it, what do other people do? am i just being a wimp and need to get on and do it and not worry what i look like.

  • Personally I wouldnt worry about trying a tri suit out before hand .. a wetsuit I might do but (IMO) there is not much difference betweena tri suit and a swimming costume

    If you do wish to try it then I dont see any reason, you might get some looks but I wouldnt let it concern me image

  • Been out for a 15 mile cycle this morning and followed that with a 1.5 mile run with my jelly legs, thats a feeling i'm gonna have to get used to.


  • Liz,
    Check with your local pool about swimming in a trisuit but they shouldn't have a problem with it. My local pool count them as swimwear and are fine about it.
    When I swim I go first thing in the morning to the sunrisers session and nobody has batted an eyelid because there's people in there using floats, pull buoys and fins in the training lane. I've seen one other person in there weraring a trisuit before now.
    People are more interested in getting their morning swim done and then heading off to work.

  • Have a read of this PSOF Numpty Guide

    ETA - And enjoy it image

  • Brilliant source of info thanks LN

  • It never occurred to me to ask if I could wear a tri suit to my pool.  As Meldy said,  I can't see that it is any diffrent to the swimsuits some of the women wear to the pool.  By swimsuits, I mean the swimwear worn by the likes of Rebecca Adlington image

  • Hi Liz. I'm doing the Bath Supersprint tri next sat also, my first ever. I have put myself down for slowest swim wave (hopefully

  • Ho hum, it looks like Bath are doing the type of swim Schmunkee described - 4 or 5 people in a lane, going at 5-second intervals. Not my idea of fun, I'll have to sharpen my fingernails beforehand!

  • Still not sure about the swimming part of this, i have been practicing and managed to do it in just over 5 mins i just look like i am drowning. I also hope i don't get in to many peoples way 5 secs apart doesn't sound like much room to spare.

  • Hate to say it but 5 seconds is very little. Only ever done that type of swim once before, at BUCS, and it was a right bundle. Don't think anyone in the lane swam very fast, but it's the same for everyone I guess!
    With a bit of luck we've been modest predicting our swim times, and everyone else in our lanes will be slower and let us past image

  • I put myself down in the 8 min wave initially as i had no idea having not swum for years, but after practicing and actually timing myself i emailed and got myself moved to the 6 min wave as it will be really irritating being held up. I know it can't be helped but with it being my first i want it all to go well and inspire me to do more. I am looking forward to it with some nerves, none of the individual things will be bad it's just putting them all together and getting sorted inbetween which might be my main challenge.


Sign In or Register to comment.