Tips from ZONE3 PRO Lauren Brandon.
- Tips to avoid foggy goggles
I know that there is some type of product that you can use to help with foggy goggles, but I've never used it, so I can't tell you whether or not it works. But I just googled drops for goggles and some anti-fog products came up if you want to try those. When I race, I actually take some bottled water with me to the start and put a little bit in my goggles before the race starts. I leave the water in there the whole time and it keeps them nice and clear. You only want to put a little bit in there so that it doesn't affect your vision, etc... I prefer bottled water so that the salt from the open water or whatever else is in that water doesn't get in your eyes :)
- Position strategy in the group at the start (if not rolling)
If I had my choice, I would always start on the far right-hand side because I breathe to my left and then can see the entire field. I also prefer to have clear water and not be jostling around with a bunch of people. With that being said, if the outside spot is way out of the way (not at all in line with the buoys, then perhaps a bit more toward the middle would be good. I think this depends on your preference and how fast you are at the beginning of the race. You don't want to be in a fight with a bunch of people for a long time, so do what you are comfortable with and where you can swim fast.
- Speed/effort perception
This is a great question and one that is hard to answer... I have had days where I swim really well but feel terrible! Other days I feel great, but don't really have the power to go fast. With that being said, you definitely want to go out fast for the first 200-300 meters so that the field can separate a bit and then settle into your own pace. Make sure to check in on your pace at every buoy. It's a great time to refocus and make sure you are settling into a good pace. I always try to pick up the pace the last couple hundred meters or so and get the legs going so that I am preparing myself for a good transition and bike.
- How to close gaps
Gaps can be hard to close if you were dropped off from the pack, but I would say do 20 strokes hard or swim fast from one buoy to another in order to try and close the gap (add more legs, pick up the arm tempo)... if it doesn't close, then just stay at your own pace.
- Toll on over pacing
If you go too hard at the beginning of the swim, then you will definitely feel it later. If you feel like you've gone too hard, then take down the pace to where it's more comfortable, and then try to build and go faster later on in the swim. If you went too hard for the entire swim because you were trying to stay with a group, then try to sit in the back of the pack for the beginning of the bike to rest up, refuel, and wait for your body to come around a bit.
- Overcoming fear of open water:
I am not a huge fan of swimming in the open water and I definitely prefer not to. You will typically find me in the pool pre-race day instead of the open water. I think when the race starts, I am trying to think of just going fast instead of what could sting me or eat me : ) Sometimes during the race my mind will start to drift and I will get scared, but I just try to redirect my attention, focus on my stroke, and finish the race quickly. If possible, try to get in the open water pre race with some friends so that you can see if there are any tides, waves, etc that you will need to navigate. Swimming with others will always help with the anxiety, so grab some buddies, stay safe, and have fun.