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Salty water, Ocean

Ocean swim is different than lake or even pool swimming. The salty water has an advantage for every swimmer; the buoyancy. Salt water is approximately 3% denser than fresh water. If you are not familiar with surf swimming ask local people, the lifeguard would be the best, about the sea and its odds.Surf swimming is a sport in which the fastest pool swimmer not always wins. There are many reasons for this and we want to discuss some of them.  A relatively good pool swim technique is a necessity for surf swimming. But what is considered a perfect stroke in a pool is not necessarily a good stroke in ocean water. The surf interrupts the stroke technique due to the currents and turbulences, which is a natural product of the water. There are too many variables compared to a well-heated indoor pool.

Cold water, waves, sandbanks, little beach reefs, surface currents, other competitors, climatic changes, etc.

Little things what pool swimmers do not do during their swim event is running, wading and swimming in the surf.

Course familiarization
Check out the tide. Incoming or outgoing tides have different waveforms. Select effective landmarks for the navigation purpose when you swim out, buoys, and when you come back, buildings, flagpoles, etc. If you swim parallel to the shoreline understand how the shoreline changes its form.

Phases of the start

Many races are lost and won by wading. It is very hard to swim from behind and swim through the maze of swimmers. The difference between wading and running is: The leg action is high and to the side and the use of the stomach muscles.

Once you have negotiated to a about waist depth, wading becomes harder, because you have to lift the water with your legs. Now we do porpoising either we plunge under or over the wave is basically up to the individual skills and preferences and needs practice. It is done for a short distance only and depends on the beach. Two to six porpoises are usually enough before you reach enough depth to start to swim.

 The swim
During the swim you should constantly checking your swim position without breaking the stroke. The head should be raised and continue swimming otherwise other swimmers behind you, will swim right into you.

Back to shoreline
Body surfing

It takes practice to get the feeling for the waves to ride on them to the shoreline. Before catching the wave for the ride, take a deep breath; you might need the air.Getting out of the water
The technique is the same as used to get into the water, just reversed. That is the moment when you need a lot of inner core strength after an exhausting swim-part to do porpoising and wading.

Racing time in a freshwater lake!!!!
You learned it all, the swim start, running into the water, dive into the first stroke and off you swim.
But wait. There are other competitors as well and they are all over you. If you do the first triathlon race ever, chose a local race with only a few competitors. The swim start is for many people the scariest part. I want to explain to you what you have to expect.If you do your first race ever, please do not stand in the middle of the other competitors. Stay outside or behind in the third or fourth line. Let the experienced swimmer go through the massacre of the first 50 to 100m, then you go in and you will have an enjoyable swim.If for instance you do your first race and you stand in the first or second row, expect the following actions:
You run into the water, shoulder on shoulder with others, left and right side no way out and to escape, behind other competitors, the first dive for the first stroke, swimmers in front of you kicking hard, they want that you stay away from them, left side is the shoulder and the arm of another competitor, you want some air, you turn the head open your mouth, bad luck there is water, you feel the weeds and sea grass around your legs, you hold your breath for another stroke, you run out of air, head goes up for breathing, there is the kicking again, in the meanwhile you swim over other people’s legs rolling to the other side, finally you get some air, and there is relief in sigh, the open water, the bunch of swimmers lengthen out and you should find your swim rhythm. These special experiences need to be practiced so you get a good feeling of your position during the swim start. Sometimes we just have to swim a little bit to the left or right side and there is quiet water. 

We have different swim starts.

Exercise them and train these to get a good idea how it works.
Run in from the shoreline into shallow water or into the deep water.
Expect weeds and sea grass in the shallow end as well as mud holes where you cannot push off from the ground. 
Deep water start, all competitors are in the water, there will be an imaginary start line between two buoys, and two people in kayaks are the controllers of the start line, the whistle goes and off you swim. 
Dive-in start Start form a platform, head first start and competitors are lined up so no one jumps on someone else.

Are you still swimming? 

Very soon you will see a buoy for a 90-degree turn or 180-degree turnaround. It just depends on how you end up at these buoy either very close or far away, we need some sort of a technique to get around.

Very close
Maybe one or two breast strokes helps you to go around because for a short time during the breast stroke you are tucked in which gives you a better turn. In freestyle you are stretched out. Watch out for the anchor line, you might get entangled.

Very far
The freestyle could be the better choice to get around. During the turn one arm pulls stronger then the other one and your body is slightly bend for the turn.
Finally you see the Arc de Triumph at the shoreline and you aim for it. Next challenge;

How to get out of the water?
Keep swimming and when your hand touches the bottom of the lake during the stroke, it is now flat enough to start porpoising and / or wading for the first couple meters before you run. Some people might feel a little bit dizzy when they go from the horizontal swim position to the vertical run position.

How to get out of the wetsuit?
Lots of secrets are applied and as many competitors are swimming as many different secrets are used to get out of the wetsuit. I would strongly recommend that you train this prior to any races. Some competitors putting some sort of a crème or oil on their skin so the wetsuit gets off easier. Some open the wetsuit right when they come out of the water because your skin does not produce any sweat yet.
Otherwise, the wetsuit might stick to your skin and you tear on the wetsuit just to get out and some damage can be done to the suit. Now you run up to the transition zone and get ready for the bike course. Just a few sentences about triathlon: The swim start can vary from a few competitors 30 or so goes up to 120 swimmers in one bunch and a few 300 swimmers in an Ironman start.When you are new in this sport take the advantage of our try-a-tri event. They are usually very short approx. (400m swim – 15km bike – 3km run). 
The next step could be the sprint version of a triathlon (750m swim – 25km bike – 5km run).
Big step forward is Olympic distance (1.5km swim – 40km bike – 10km run) or you skip all of that and you do an Ironman instead (3.8km swim – 180km bike – 41 run).In Ontario we offer a series for woman only triathlon, another excellent way to experience the fantastic sport of triathlon. The next article will be about the transition and how to set it up.