Setting a time goal for your next triathlon swim is counterproductive. It is harder to stay calm when you are working hard. Slow down. Triathletes being the competitive beasts they are, this is not as easy as it sounds.
You know the platitudes about no one caring about your speed as much as you do. You are as anonymous as an ant out there in your goggles and cap, but still the pressure to perform looms large.
Nonetheless, you must face the reality that anxiety is something you must tackle in order to continue successfully in this sport. You can’t buy confidence—you have to build it one race at a time. That means you have to be brave enough to create and execute race goals that free rather than bind you. Try, “I will finish no faster than____,” and fill in the blank with a really slow time. How about finishing last in your age group? Fearless swimmers think the swim is fun. What goal would make the swim fun for you?
At your next race, do a good warm-up. When the gun fires, wait half a minute before you walk (don’t run) into the water. Take breathing breaks according to your race plan and stay in the circle. Swim with ease and enjoy yourself.