Prepare in the pool
The decision to get to the buoy first should not be made on the starting line! Add sprint sets like these to your regular training at least two months before the race.
200 fast! (from a dive), 10 sec rest, 800 smooth (use first 200 as “active recovery”)
3×100 fast! with 5 sec rest, 1×500 (mid-race pace) with 60 sec rest, repeat entire set
15×50 (3 fast! with 5 sec rest, 2 smooth with 15 sec rest, repeat three times)
10×25 fast! with 15 sec rest (start two yards from the wall to simulate “deep-water start”)