Ironman NZ - Swim Leg

Ironman Race Morning

Get in the water approx 10min prior to race start and run through a warm up. 


  • If you tend to head off course a lot sighting every 6-12 strokes is very important
  • If you swim more solo then again sighting is very important
  • In a bunch then checking the leader is taking you down the course correctly may mean checking your direction every 10-20 strokes 

Read more and watch a helpful video on sighting technique 



Competitive swimmers approach to the swim may be slightly different to swimmers that are out there to just get through the swim.

Competitive Swimmers

  1. Start near the front
  2. Choose a position that will best suit your predominant breathing side 
  3. Learn to have different paces - start fast and then settle into a good rhythm
  4. Bilateral breathing can help you to find the best drafting options as you go down the course
  5. Use your kick in effective ways to lift pace and turnover to stay with groups or another swimmer
  6. Sighting is important but trust your lines especially if you are familiar with the course 

Other Swimmers

  1. Warm up is even more important to eliminate panic or anxiety attacks that often happen to less confident swimmers
  2. Start slightly behind the main pack or off to the side
  3. Once you have warmed up then float and relax at the position you want to start don't spend 3-4 min to swim to start line once the cannon is fired to start
  4. Consistency in pace is important - find a rhythm and stick to it
  5. If you need to stop - try lying on your back and kicking down the course while you get your breath
  6. Drafting will provide you a massive benefit in regards to your effort but most swimmers who would benefit from it more - don't do it! 

The strategy that you can take in the swim can be important as your training that you do in the pool and open water can assist you to achieve this strategy.  

Example - you might want to do some swim sets that have change of pace like 3x400m with the third 100m fast and a steady pace for the rest of the swim OR a 10x100m as 50m Free @ Moderate Tempo then 50m Kick only fast.


What you can do and how to overcome it?

  1. Dropping toes for small periods of time (change muscle length)
  2. Simulation of pushing off wall
    • Usually calf
    • Suddenly sitting up in the water can cause hammy cramps  eg. pull away from someone suddenly appearing in front of you.
  3. Trying to keep consistent and relaxed.
  4. Can be a lack of distance in your training at your race intensity
    • Use fins – long kick sets to create fatigue simulation
    • Long open water simulation swims