Hi Kathryn - I did my first triathlon at the Milton Women's tri (also the
try-a-tri) in 1999. It was a great introduction to the sport and I have
been ***ed ever since, doing my first Ironman at Ironman Canada in 2001,
and returning for my 2nd at IMC next week.
Like you, I was a weak swimmer and just learned to swim that summer. I
chose that race since it had the shortest swim of any try-a-tri around
(300m). Needless to say, I was terrified!!
I did start the swim at the back of the pack - definitely a good idea.
Another option is to just go wide at the start and swim a bit extra
distance. It is hard enough to try and swim, let alone having to worry
about body contact (it can get very rough), as well as dealing with open
water. In fact, I have known some very good pool swimmers to completely
panic in triathlon swims since it is so different from the pool.
I was pleased that I was not the only crappy swimmer. There were a few
others doing the front crawl like me who were slow, and there were some
doing the *** stroke, back stroke and some just floating on their backs
As far as a wetsuit, that is a tough call. For that distance a wetsuit
won't save you enough time to make up for what you will lose taking it off
in transition. And you won't need it for warmth since Kelso will still be
very warm. But if you have any doubts about your ability to do the
distance, then it is a good idea.
If you have access to a suit, be wary of what you are using. For instance,
I notice in try-a-tris that some people wear non-swimming wetsuits (ie.
windsurfing suits). These will really slow you down since they aren't
slick. If you can use a proper swimming wetsuit (Orca, Ironman, Aquaman
etc.), then be sure it fits you well. You will know if it fits if it is so
tight you can barely get it on. You don't want there to be any loose spots.
If there are, you will take on water and it will slow you down. So with an
improper suit, you will gain buoyancy, but have a tougher swim, so no real
Also, you didn't mention if you will front crawl the entire time. If you
are doing any *** stroking the wetsuit will really constrict your chest
since it isn't meant to fit for that stroke.
I would also suggest, if you can, to try and do an open water swim
beforehand. You can swim at Kelso at the public beach along the buoy line.
It takes a little while to get used to that strange feeling that you are
swimming in water over your head, you can't see, etc. It also helps to
The nice thing about wearing a wetsuit is that when you sight (which might
result in a quick pause in your stroke), you won't sink. When I swim
without a wetsuit I really notice how much I sink when I sight, even for
that split second. I also have to kick my legs when I swim without a suit,
while with it I just kick a little bit so that I can save my legs for the
bike & run.
Other things to consider: if you do end up in a crowd on the swim, really
concentrate on always having one hand extended in front of you. That way
you can somewhat protect your face by knowing where other feet are. Don't
worry if you touch someone's feet. It is best if you can keep swimming
while feeling someone else's bubbles... that means you are drafting off of
someone and will be doing less work!! But for your first tri, you might
just want to steer clear of the crowd altogether!!
Don't be discouraged if you come out near the back of the swim pack... you
will catch up to lots of little kids on banana bikes!!
Enjoy the race!! It is a great event. Be sure to hang around afterwards as
they always have tons of door prizes. I might do the sprint, or volunteer
if I am too tired from Ironman.
> Is anyone with experience on this tri here on this list?
> I am doing my first Tri at this one (www.womenstriathlon.com) and I am
> the Tri-a-Tri
> I am a really weak swimmer and was wondering if anyone has any pointers
> I've been told to wear a wetsuit (extra buoyancy), and stay to the back of
> the pack.
> I'd appreciate any advice!