Nantucket triathlon preparation
June 28, 2009 7:14 PM   Subscribe

On July 11th I'm giving the Nantucket Island Triathlon a go (my first one)...can I do the swim in spandex under regular swimming trunks? The organizers recommend a wetsuit, but I can't afford any that I've found online. Also, any ideas on where could I practice open water swimming near Boston?
posted by nowoutside to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The water temp in Nantucket Harbor isn't cold in July. Spandex will be fine. Besides, if it's still the same route, there's a half mile or more run along Cotue Beach between the paddle leg and the swim leg and you definitely don't want to do it in a wet suit. Open water swims in Boston? Try the L Street Bath House area in Southie.
posted by birdwatcher at 7:28 PM on June 28, 2009

Try renting a wet suit at a dive shop.
posted by kgbrion at 8:46 PM on June 28, 2009

Dive wet suits will probably be too thick, you want a tri suit. I've sent you a memail too.
posted by nat at 9:48 PM on June 28, 2009

Best answer: You definitely don't want a dive suit, way too thick.

fyi Sierra Trading Post often has great deals on swim suits (look under wetsuits in the kayak/ canoe section).
posted by fshgrl at 10:29 PM on June 28, 2009

Google is your friend.

They seem to go for around $40 plus shipping per week,
posted by dirty lies at 3:54 AM on June 29, 2009

Best answer: How long is the swim leg?

Triathletes use wetsuits not only for warmth, but for speed as well. They add bouyancy and they streamline your body. A wetsuit can improve your performance. And even on the warmest days, many triathletes will wear them. ANother advantage is that even warm water is cooling to your body, and you want to get on the bike warm, not chilled, so you do not have to warm up all over again.

Downside - it takes a little time to get a wetsuit off. People practice transitioning with them, unzipping as they run to T1 and pulling the suit to their waists. then taking it off leg by leg and stepping into running shorts and shoes that are already laid out. You want to be used to your wetsuit, not be fighting with it. If you practice you can do it so that you lose no time.

REI also has deals on trisuits sometime. You might score a used one by asking on Beginner Triathlete or on Craigslist. Another place to look is surf shops. They aren't as heavy as dive suits and are designed for great range of motion. They often have used ones - especially surf shops that give lessons.

The main question is how much you care about your time. If you are running to finish - if it's your first triathlon - then the finesse of a wetsuit is not going to make or break you. A lot of people will skip them. But the fact that the organizers recommend it is worth noting. You could call the race organizers and ask...or you could ask on Beginner Triathlete, where it's likely that someone has done the race itself and can tell you from firsthand experience.

I don't know where you can practice near Boston, but any public bay-type beach with not much surf will do. Or just swim out beyond the surf line. But definitely practice before the race. It's so different from pool swimming.

Congrats on setting this goal and good luck!
posted by Miko at 7:25 AM on June 29, 2009

(also, consider a "shortie" wetsuit, with knee- and elbow-length cut instead of full ankle-to-wrist coverage)
posted by Miko at 7:25 AM on June 29, 2009

I compete in triathlon at all distances and I always wear a wetsuit, partly to be more streamlined in the water, but also for some added confidence as I can be a nervous swimmer. The swim can be a bit frantic - lots of people thrashing about - if you have a wetsuit on you can just bob about a bit, wait for it to calm down and not have to tread water.

Miko's advice is great and I used Beginner Tri a lot when I was starting out. You can always drop a note to your local tri club, too.

Have a great race!
posted by poissonrouge at 9:01 AM on June 29, 2009

3rding/4thing the wetsuit recommendations.

I do a half-iron man triathlon every year and the wetsuit removes a couple minutes off my pool lap-times. For me as well, since the wet-suit keeps you pretty well afloat, I tend to use my legs less in kicking and concentrate on my arms. This saves my legs for the upcoming bike. I might be off on this, in that I never asked anyone if that's an OK thing to do, so take it with a grain of salt.

Also, poissonrouge's advice about bobbing is good as well. That first 300 meters or so is always the most stressful part of the race, with everyone in close quarters, trying to get into their swim rhythm. You'll get hit, grabbed, kicked, and pulled on--obviously not on purpose. It's good to know this and mentally prepare for it. I had no idea when I did my first tri and it was quite a trial.
posted by snwod at 7:22 PM on June 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! The swim leg is 0.25 mi long, I failed to mention that this is a sprint. I'm not too worried about my performance time-wise, though I am keenly interested in survival.
posted by nowoutside at 7:37 PM on June 29, 2009

Best answer: Hey, don't know if you're still checking this, but I just completed my first tri last weekend; it was also a sprint. The swim was 900m, the water temp was 73-74ยบ F. I used to be a very strong swimmer, but haven't been at it for awhile. I only got a few pool workouts in but was able to meet my goal of finishing midpack in my wave (it was a big event, we started in 12 waves).

Here's what I learned:
*Do more than 3 pool workouts
*Get a good night's sleep
*Don't try to do anything in transition that you haven't practiced. (For example, you'll see people with their bike shoes already clipped to their pedals. Don't try this during the race unless you know you can nail it.)
*Keep it simple. Don't bring anything you don't need into transition.
*73-74 is not too cold to do this kind of event sans wetsuit
*If your modesty permits, don't wear the swim trunks. Swim in the spandex. After 100m you're going to feel like you've got an anchor around your loins. That would be the swim trunks.
*Think about how you want to get your bib number on after the swim. Either pull a top on with the number pinned, or get a race belt that you can clip the number to. Race belts are often given away by sponsors of these events at the registration/packet pickup/expo.
*Expect to drink some water in the swim. I'm very at home in the water but was surprised at how many times I got a mouthful from neighboring swimmers, wind gusts, etc.
*Drink all the time. Keep extra fluids at transition. Drink the night before. DRINK!!!

I really enjoyed my first triathlon, and will be doing another one before long. Good luck and most of all have fun!
posted by Mister_A at 4:56 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok, in case someone wants to know how things turned out- water temp was in the 60s, air temp was in the high 70s and very it was sunny. I ended up foregoing a wetsuit and just wearing spandex tri shorts. The water seemed really cold at first, but once I got going, my heat production was plenty high enough to make the water feel comfortable. I overheard some people saying they actually regretted wearing a wetsuit, since there was a significant run up through shallow water and on the beach to the transition area.

Thanks for all the general triathlon tips too. I had a blast, what a great sport.
posted by nowoutside at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2009

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