Often the coldest, loneliest and most difficult part of the entire race, the swim has traditionally been where winners have made their move, often blowing the race wide open.
Things to remember:
- The run should be fun – the 3km stretch of Burleigh can be tough after almost 2 hours on the ski but this part of the race should be considered a rolling buffet. Once you enter the swim, you won’t get anything to eat or drink for 45mins – 75mins depending on if you’re Ali Day or a mere mortal; so, spend the run consuming as much fluid and nutrition as you can.
- Trust your handlers – when you enter the water, you will have your handler shouting instructions, splits and encouragement as well as what line to take through the surf. Don’t try and overthink it in the early stages. Let your board paddler guide you through the surf and onto the course.
- Set a pace and always lift – I always tried to set a tough pace in the swim and then continue to build throughout the leg. Your speed will naturally drop as you get further into the swim; but by focusing on trying to lift your pace, especially through the back half, you will have a strong and consistent swim leg.
- Find feet – similarly to the ski leg, if you can find a pack to swim with and draft off, it will not only make you swim quicker but also ensure you’re efficient. Find a set of feet and stick to them.
- Don’t look too far ahead – my final piece of advice is to make sure you only look at your guide board paddler and don’t look for the finish. The swim leg will get tough, often cold and seemingly never-ending, so just focus on your stroke, intensity and not the finish line; and it will be a far more pleasant experience.
Up next time is the board.
Josh Minogue is the 2014 Coolangatta Gold winner.