Sprint Tri swimming

Hi there, after years of being a cyclist who can swim and runs marathons and stuff I have finally accepted that I may be a triathlete! As a result I have signed up for a sprint triathlon (Rossendale) in 2013.

I am running VLM in 2013 aswell, but I hope to put two pool sessions a week in at lunchtime. WhatI don't know is what are the rules for the pool swim in the triathlon? Can I draft? Can I push off the wall, I am hoping to use front crawl, but can I use other strokes if needs must. I have read the Dr*p swim thread but haven't founf the answers to such 'obvious' questions?

Thanks Matt 


  • Swim rules in pool swims are quite simple

    When you enter, you will be asked to put your estimated time down - they will set the slower swimmers off first and each goes about every 10/15 secs (depending on numbers)

    Drafting is inevitable but if you do come across a slower swimmer, etiquette says tickle their feet to let them know you're there - they should then stop at the wall and let you pass as you turn.  And same goes for those coming from behind on you.

    Yes, you can push off but usually tumble turns aren't allowed.

    Front crawl is normal; you can use breaststroke; never seen anyone doing fly; backstroke is a no go due to sighting issues.  Also, if in difficulty, roll onto your back and hold the lane rope; or stop at the wall end.   

  • Thanks, all sounds pretty simple. I guess the only thing now is to see what 400m is like, although I am hoping to make up time on the bike and run!


  • If, after 4 lengths of tickling toes, they still refuse to let you pass, it's perfectly acceptable to drown them
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Don't forget that at the end of the swim you have to pull yourself out of the water. Sometimes from the deep end. Not what you need with tired arms.
  • 7755matt wrote (see)
    If, after 4 lengths of tickling toes, they still refuse to let you pass, it's perfectly acceptable to drown them

    I'm always amazed/annoyed at how many people ignore a perfectly obvious tap on the foot. I've once or twice resorted to grabbing an ankle and giving a bloody great yank!

  • Must admit, I quite often stop at the end to let peeps thorugh anyways, if you have your wits about you, you know they are there. Though I am only really in it for the fun element.

    Sadly there are others. My mate told me he got pushed off the steps on the way out at Stratford a few weeks ago.

  • I'm hoping the swim is going to be a steady affair rather than a fight to the death.

    Good tip about pulling myself out of the pool though. I do find swimming pretty tough and I don't want to ruin myself for the things I'm hoping to be better at.

  • OT, I did my first tri this year, and like you was unsure of what to expect. I anticipated doing 12 minutes for 400m (I actually took 10) and was place in the second round or wave of swimmers. At that level people aren't really up to speed with swim etiquette. You're set off at 10 second intervals and soon catch someone up. Tapping ankles was futile, so I overtook one person up the middle of the narrow lane. That is apparently OK if nobody is coming towards you. Then I hit a bottle neck of swimmers and tapped ankles like I wanted to crawl up their trousers. If your ankle is tapped you are supposed to let the other person pass at the next lane end. They didn't stop and I ended up having my own ankle tapped. It was a traffic jam, but with 3 laps to go I just left it.
    Whe they all reached the end of lap 16 I jumped out the pool, ripped off the coloured hat and ran to T1, beating all three in front of me. Sorted.

    The next one I did was a team even, and I told our lot to just swim straight over me, because I was going to be the slowest by some margin. They did as asked.

  • Thanks Blisters, I guess I'm going to be in that kind of time frame for this swim, but the more I've found out from people like yourself, the more I'm sure I'm going to enjoy it.

    If there is a traffic jam it may be a useful way of keeping things a bit calmer for me. I'll just make sure that I'm not the one causing it!

    On thing's for certain, swim training is a lot warmer than running at the minute.


  • Some tris do allow tumble turns but they tend to be the more competitive ones.  The reason being that tris that are aimed at beginners tend to have people who are not good at turns.  The organisers don't want to take responsibility for someone messing up a turn and hitting their head on the bottom, or bashing into another competitor.  Also some pools are very shallow, so the chance of hitting your head would be greater.

    Generally they don't allow diving.  You start in the water.

    You are responsibile for counting your own lengths, however some races do have people who count for you, and they tend to put a float in the water in front of you when you ahve two lengths left.  However, it is still your responsibility and if you (or they) cock up the counting then you could be disqualified

  • and if you (or they) cock up the counting then you could be disqualified

    -only if you swim fewer than the 16 lengths. Swim 18 and it's you that's the plonker.-

  • I hadn't even thought about counting the distance, which to be fair I'm rubbish at. The only way i can get close is by repeating the number to myself for the whole length (you can probably see my lips moving).

    I'm planning to do two swim sessions a week in my lunchtime, does anyone have tips for good sessions which are doable in c.30 minutes?

    Alternatively are there any coaching books for sprint tris?

    Thanks Matt

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