On race day, you'll want to prepare as best as you can. The first way to do this is to attend the course conditions talk. Race directors assess the course before the race starts, and they'll explain how temperature, wind and surf may affect you. Miss this talk, and you could make multiple mistakes that lead to a disastrous race.
Weather conditions are an extremely important aspect of a triathlon, but they really affect how you tackle the swim portion. If the water is too warm, you may not be allowed to wear a wet suit. Likewise, if the water is cold, wet suits might be mandatory. Race day shouldn't be the day to try swimming in a wet suit for the first time. High winds and surf may also affect your ability to wear a wet suit. Knowing how winds and waves are behaving will help you judge how to tackle the course. Misjudge, and you could end up swimming well out of your way.
Take the time to walk along the shore and look at how the course is set up. How many buoys are in the water? How many turns will you have to make? Knowing the water markers will help you figure out what you should sight during your swim and help you anticipate any turns.
Finally, don't panic. If you've prepared yourself by training well and familiarizing yourself with the course and conditions, you'll be well-equipped to have a good swim start. Panicking at the start could lead to not only a disastrous swim, but it could endanger your life. You want to survive the swim, not drown. Take a deep breath and do the best you can.
Looking at the race day conditions is just one aspect of having a fast triathlon swim start. Training, warming up and lining up are also important elements of a successful start.
Read on for tips to help you with the technical aspects of a triathlon swim start.