Race Season Prep with Chloe Lane

The triathlon season has started, and it’s time to convert all those hard-earned kilometers you’ve swum in the pool into speed in the open water. Here are a few key tips to transition from following the black line in the pool to making the most of open water swimming.

Preparing for the Race:
- If you have a race coming up, a couple of sessions in the pool in your wetsuit can be helpful to remember what it feels like. Your body position, shoulders and chest will feel different than in the pool! This will also help stretch the wetsuit a little bit and make it feel more comfortable.
- When putting on your wetsuit, pull the wetsuit legs up high enough that the wetsuit is sitting flush against your crotch. Do the same for the arms; pulling them up enough so the wetsuit sits flush against your armpits. This will ensure the wetsuit isn’t constricting your shoulders in the swim. (P.S. Wearing gloves while putting your suit on and pulling from your palm rather than your fingertips will keep your wetsuit in better condition for longer.)
- Try swimming longer repeats of 400-800m, where you sight the end of your lane every 25 or 50m. This will help mimic the body position required to sight in the open water. Incorporate this into your pool sessions as you get closer to race day, and your neck muscles will also thank you.
- Remember you only need to lift your eyes out of the water to sight, not your whole face. Sight first, then turn your head to breathe. Trying to breathe at the same time breaks your body position in the water and also often leads to choking in wavy conditions.
- Practice the details. You’ll get better at taking off your wetsuit the more you do it. Every time you swim, practice taking off your wetsuit as if you were in a race. Transition times can greatly impact your performance. For an extra challenge, race your friend or even the pool clock to see how fast you can take it off.

Race Morning:
- Invest in two pairs of goggles – one tinted pair for sunny conditions and one clear pair for cloudy conditions. Take both options with you to every triathlon and make the decision before starting. Being able to see clearly can keep new swimmers calmer as they will not feel as claustrophobic.
- Swimming in the ocean? You can learn a lot by watching the swim waves before you to see if there are any currents, sandbars, troughs, etc. Adjust your swim start position and entry accordingly.
- Seed yourself depending on your swim strength and confidence; faster swimmers will start at the front of the wave. If you’re not as fast (or maybe just a little apprehensive), start at the back of your wave. Having said that, don't hesitate once the gun goes off.
- Look for a larger landmark behind the swim buoys that will be easier to sight, for example, a building, tree, or hill. Find your sight points in your practice swim before the race so you can watch for them on race day.
- And most importantly... Try to RELAX! It is normal to feel nervous in the morning on race day. Don't fight the nerves; embrace them! Remember the training you’ve completed and that you are ready!
Chloe Lane is a Professional Athlete and the Ironman Wisconsin Champion. She is the Owner & Coach of Fast Lane Coaching in Australia and is a new member of the deboer wetsuit family for the 2024 triathlon season.