Focus on the warm-up
When you arrive race morning, don’t let the logistics of setting up your transition and chatting with teammates take priority over a proper swim warm-up. Beware: Pre-race butterflies and nervous energy can easily be mistaken for a feeling of readiness. Rodrigues’ advice is to ignore the receptors and stick to your warm-up plan. “When you run a 10K, do you show up to the start line five minutes before the race?” he asks. “Hopefully not. The body doesn’t get the opportunity to deliver all your training when you don’t warm up.”
Many triathletes will warm up with a quick jog, but, as Rodrigues points out, running makes the upper body tight and rigid, which does nothing for your swimming. Yes, getting the core warm is a good idea, but spending all of your warm-up time on your legs does a disservice to your swim.
“People are always making sure they’re warmed up on the bike and run and then they throw on their wetsuit and the gun goes off,” McLarty says. “The swim, in my mind, needs to be the thing you warm up for. The swim in the race is the warm-up to the rest of your race.”
Plus, although there isn’t evidence to suggest that a proper warm-up could have prevented any of the recent deaths in triathlon swims, it could help to decrease the likelihood. “The water temperature is cold, your chest gets tight, you’re sprinting with a lot of people around you, you have a high amount of anxiety. I think without warming up or having familiarity, all of those things can add up as a trigger for someone with a pre-disposition,” Rodrigues says. “Prepare the odds to be in your favor and eliminate as many triggers as you can.”