• Early Season Pool Swim Races

    By Dr Liz Scott

    Early season pool swim triathlons are a great way to kick start your season. There are a number of things that you can practice beforehand and use on race day to make sure you get off to a good start in the pool.

    Warming up

    There is usually no opportunity to swim before your race but you can use mobilisation exercises to get blood flowing to the joints and focus your mind on the task ahead. Here are some ideas for when you are waiting in line for your start!

    1. Begin with shoulder shrugs – rotate your shoulders 8 times forward and 8 times backwards keeping your arms relaxed by your side

    2. Stretch your arms above your head with your fingertips together and no space between your head and your forearms. Stretch and release 3 times

    3. Clasp your hands together behind your back and then stretch your arms our backwards bringing your shoulder blades together. Stretch and release 3 times

    4. Clasp your hands together in front of you then stretch your arms out in front directly in line with your shoulders. Stretch and release 3 times

    5. Give yourself enough space and then swing your right arm in a big circle around your shoulder. 8 big rotations and then repeat with your left arm.

    6. Finally – practice your swim stroke. Visualise how you are going to swim

    The Start

    If you are going to start a watch, do this before the starter sets you off – maybe 10 seconds before just in case you hit the wrong button and the watch does not start – we have all done it! Try to keep relaxed in the first length so as not to blast off too fast. It is useful to have a goal number of strokes for the first length and stick to it.

    Push offs

    Effective push offs are obviously very important in a pool swim so you need to practice. Tumble turns are best but if this is not an option you can still be fast and efficient by bending your knees well when you plant your feet on the wall, and off the wall becoming as streamlined as possible, starting your stroke just before you begin to slow down.

    Drafting and Overtaking

    Drafting in the pool is legal and will save you alot of energy but make sure that the person in front of you is swimming at the right pace for you. No point in sitting behind someone that is swimming much slower than is usual for you. Be prepared to overtake. Take a quick glance up to check that there is not a swimmer overtaking towards you and then increase your turnover with a strong but controlled effort until you are past – also good to practice before your race.


    You can really make some difference in your overall time here just by practising a few times. Each pool is different, so if the race is local try to get to the race pool beforehand. Where the water level is a few inches below the edge of the pool (as is most common) you should swim fast towards the end (the faster the better as this gives you momentum). Place both hands on the side and push up so that in one movement one foot is under you and you can push off and up! Everyone can do this with a little practice.