• Open water skill focus: Mass starts

    How to start050625-N-7575W-011

    Your deep water start position in the water:

    • one arm extended, legs up, body rotated   – so that you are ready to take the first stroke
    • eyes facing forward – do not be tempted to look at the starter –  you will hear the whistle/horn!

    If you are going to use a watch to time your triathlon then the time to start the watch is when the starter says 30 sec to go.  Start your watch and see that it has started and then go back to your start position.  If you leave it until the horn it is almost certain not to start and will impair your start and probably the start of the swimmers around you!  How many of us have experienced this?

    The first 50 m of the race are very important.  If you want to be competitive then you will have started towards the front of the pack or even at the very front.   The first 50 m need to strong and powerful.  But if you become anaerobic in the first 50 m it will take you 60s to recover from this effort.  So learning what your starting effort should be and practising it is important.

    Where to start


    •  how competitive you want to be.  If you know you can be at the front of the pack then start in the position that gives you the shortest distance to the first buoy
    • if you should be near the front but may be leading then positioning yourself to one side is often a good strategy you are near the front but will have clearer water
    • you do need to consider where the first buoy is and which way around the buoy you will be turning.  Bear in mind that other swimmers will be veering towards the buoy ready to turn
    • if you are a less confident swimmer it is better for you to seed yourself in a position with swimmers of a similar ability – you will get a much better swim.  Starting to one side does allow you slightly clearer water

    When to start

    If you are an anxious open water swimmer it is perfectly fine to wait for say 15 s after the horn has gone before starting to completely avoid the melee!