How to Make Your Rookie Tri Swim Start a Breeze

Everything you need to know about the swim start

2018 Rookie Triathlon swim start details.

2018 Rookie Tri starts at 8:00 a.m. with the Open wave.

As you all know, swimming is the first discipline of a triathlon. The Rookie Tri swim start is arranged to be more manageable and less stressful for first- or second-time triathletes. Race morning is as relaxed as you make it. One way to keep it relaxed is to know your wave, your age group, and when you’ll enter the water. Before we dive in, you also need to know when transition opens and closes.

Rookie Triathlon transition opens at 6:00 a.m. at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in northeast Austin (parking opens at 5:45 a.m. and carpooling is encouraged). If you’re the type who worries about time, traffic, and parking, then arriving earlier than normal will benefit you tremendously. Make sure you know transition rules, body marking, and how to wear your timing chip. Keep in mind that transition closes at 7:30 a.m. It’s time to head to Decker Lake for the Rookie Tri swim start!

Swim start

Rookie Tri Open wave swim start is at 8:00 a.m.

Pass the time before your swim start and cheer on the pros in the Open Wave.

The Rookie Tri utilizes a time trial swim start (except for the Open wave). Depending on course density and the flow of the event, at least one person at a time will enter the water (at approximately two-second intervals). Participants will start with their assigned wave (eg. Rookie, Men 40 & over), but the order within each wave is unimportant. The time for each person will start when they cross the swim start timing mat at the water’s edge.

The Open wave will begin at 8:00 a.m. They will be followed by Veteran Men, Veteran Women, Aquabike and Relays, Rookie Men, and Rookie Women. It is imperative you have everything you need for the swim when you transition closes at 7:30 a.m. Each wave will start approximately four minutes after the one before it. Each wave will also have their own swim cap color. To see the entire schedule and approximate times, check out the Rookie Tri Event Schedule.

The waiting game

The first Rookie wave begins around 8:40 a.m. The final Rookie wave will take off around 9:08 a.m. As a first-timer, you’re probably wondering, what do I do until my wave begins? We’ve got a few ideas for you.

  • find a quiet place to relax, gather yourself, and briefly escape from the moment, this could help calm race-day nerves

    Relax with family and friends before your swim start

    Relax with friends and family before your swim start!

  • talk to some friends and family to pass the time, especially if your tri club/group is out in full force
  • step to the side of the action for some last-minute stretching, this is another way to reduce race-day jitters
  • watch the Open wave and cheer on the other triathletes, remember, they all started right where you are

Professional Swim Advice for Rookie Triathletes

Complete at least one open water swim before Rookie Triathlon

Hundreds of Rookies will complete their first triathlon at Rookie Triathlon on Sunday, May 6th. If you’re training for your first triathlon like William, then you’ve probably never completed an open water swim. Perhaps all of your training has taken place in the pool. Until Tuesday, April 24th, all of William’s swim training has taken place in the pool. Check in with his training and see how his open water swims went. Paul “Barny” Williams, William’s coach and professional triathlete, provides some advice and talks about the importance of completing at least one open water swim before race day. Watch the video below and feel free to share the advice with your Rookie friends!

Rookie Triathlete: Part 7: The Open Water

The open water swim is a game-changer

Up until Tuesday, April 24th, none of my Rookie Triathlon training swims were in open water. They were all in a pool. The pool was daunting at first, but over time I became more accustomed. Clear waters allowed me to see the guiding, black line below. Lane dividers kept me from going all over the place and running into others. Protocol taught me how to share a lane with someone else and not crash head first. For good reason (whether I liked it or not), all of that was about to change.

open water

Sunrises at Barton Springs never get old.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about graduating to open water and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. Yeah, so I put off that graduation swim for a couple weeks. I found every excuse I could to not visit Barton Springs. I’d hit the snooze button, go for a bike ride, or return to the pool. Everyone I talked to about their first triathlon said they’re glad they did an open water swim beforehand. Others wish they had completed at least one non-pool swim before their first triathlon. I knew I needed to get out of the pool. I just needed to clear that mental hurdle.

Mental hurdle cleared

I jumped in Barton Springs (how else do you get in?!) this past Tuesday morning (4/24). I made sure I had my buoy (and noseplug!) for my first open water swim. This would be the longest continuous swim for me since my mock Rookie Tri championship. My breathing and form have improved tremendously. I didn’t want to lose all of that on my first non-pool swim. I wore running tights, no board shorts this time! The water felt good and I knew standing around wouldn’t help matters. So I took off.

open water

Can’t help but have a great day after that swim!

I tried to remember everything from the pool, plus sighting. My first long swim in Barton Springs would not result in running into someone. Everything started feeling good until about the halfway mark. That’s when the rocks disappear. Your energy starts shrinking. The form and breathing you’ve practiced goes out the window. But this is where Barny, my coach, kicks in. Just like anything else, it’s all friggin’ mental. I can’t control the rocks disappearing, but I can control my form and my breathing. Both of those impact my energy levels and my ability to remain calm.

Open water swim: Take Two

I needed to go back to the Springs. Barny had it built into my training plan. Rookie Tri is less than two weeks away. I need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Barny wanted to stretch out a new wetsuit in the Springs. He and I planned to return the next day, Wednesday (4/25). This time, he challenged me to do the swim with no buoy. After all, I can’t use the buoy on race day.

This swim was harder, not because of the missing buoy. I had a hard running workout with RAW Running the night before. Add to that, I biked to the Springs from our office (~4 miles one way). So my body wasn’t in peak shape. But in the end, this is all preparing me for Sunday, May 6th, at Decker Lake. As I mentioned, the swim was harder, I needed to breaststroke a few times to get me breathing back down. I paused at the end of the Springs to rest and catch my breath. BUT I DID IT. I feel my upper body getting stronger. Plus, I didn’t run into anyone!

If you’re a Rookie and have been in the pool 100%, I strongly encourage you to swim in the open water at least once before Rookie Tri. You need to experience something similar to what you’ll experience on race day. I promise you’ll be better off for completing at least one open water swim. I know I’m planning at least one or two more. Check out our next blog post to watch a video from Barny where he talks about the importance of an open water swim before your first triathlon.

Parking and Carpooling

Parking

Parking is very limited at the venue. We have been able to keep parking free and available to everyone by having those racing and their spectators carpool to the event. Please help us continue this by carpooling and encouraging your friends to as well.

Parking opens at 5:45am. Plan on getting to the venue no later than 7:30 am. The bike course surrounds the venue and the roads will be closed 15 minutes before the start of the race. If you arrive late you will have to park outside of the road closure and walk in (over 1/4 mile).

Venue & Directions

Carpooling Contest

Not only does carpooling help keep parking free, you can also win cool prizes! Simply take a photo of your carpooling crew on race morning with #MyRookieTriCrew. Post the photo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We will be giving away over 20 prizes including Race Entries, Nuun water bottles, Bags of Nuun performance, and more!

 

How To Pick Up Your Packet

Picking up your packet is easy but does require certain steps to be followed. The Rookie Tri is USAT sanctioned (you can read about what that means here) and has certain requirements to pick up your packet.

An important note for relay teams: Relay teams must come to the Expo together to pick up their packets and each team member must have a valid USAT license. If you come separately, the timing chip and bibs will not be released until all members have checked in and shown USAT membership & Valid ID.

1.When & Where to pick up your packet.

You must pick up your packet during these hours. To avoid the biggest line do not come in the first hour that it is open each day.

Mellow Johnny’s (400 Nueces St, Austin, TX 78701)

Friday, May 4th 12:00 – 7:00

Saturday, May 5th 11:00 – 5:00

*Out of Town Racers Walter E Long Park Sunday, May 6th 6:00 – 7:00 AM under the pavilion.

2. Have Your Photo ID

Only the participant can pick up their packet, not their spouse, child, parent, coworker, etc. The photo ID must be valid.

Youth athletes without an ID must be accompanied by a parent/guardian with a photo ID.

3. USAT Membership

If you purchased a 1-Day during registration we will have this on record for you. If not, you must show your USAT membership card. Those not having proof of USAT membership will be required to purchase a 1-day license for $15. There will not be computers there to print your proof, but there is a phone app!

4. Your Packet

Your packet will include a reusable bag, your shirt, and an envelope with your bib, timing chip, stickers, and swim cap. Shirts can only be exchanged after the event.

It is best to check your envelope to make sure that all of the numbers match. We are all human and though it is rare there are sometimes errors made while stuffing the packets.

5. Have questions? We are here to help!

We will have staff there to help answer any of your questions. Also feel free to ask a volunteer, many of them are veterans of the sport and can help you with advice. You can also check out our pre-race tips.

2018 Athlete Tracking & Live Results!

Live Online Tracking

You can watch the leaderboard live on race day! Share this link with family and friends so that they can see the results no matter where they are on this beautiful earth.

Results Messaging

You can also sign up for messaging. Search for your name and set up messages to be sent to your twitter or facebook to keep all of your followers up to date on your progress at the Rookie Tri. You can also set up text messaging to your spectators so they know when you have completed each part of the event and can be waiting for you at the finish line.
LIVE RESULTS MESSAGING SIGN UP:

Rookie Triathlete: Part 6: Solo Bike Ride

My first open road solo bike ride was a windy one

Holy smokes was the wind blowing fiercely during my first open road solo bike ride. Barny, my coach, picked the windiest day for my first long bike ride! On Saturday, April 14th, I took my no-longer-brand-new-to-me bike out for my first venture onto the open road by myself. Sharing the road with vehicles without the comfort of a group ride was intimidating. Before I left the house, I made sure I had my helmet, brightly colored clothing, lights, nutrition, and hydration. Prepared for every situation was comforting. What I needed was a bubble to protect me from the 30-40 mph wind gusts.

solo bike ride

2018 Rookie Tri bike course.

In late March, I previewed the 11.2-mile Rookie Tri bike course with a group of about 60 cyclists from the Austin Triathlon Club. On my solo bike ride, the Rookie Tri bike course was sandwiched in between an out-and-back on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. The excessive wind become evident right when I started, but I wouldn’t let it deter me. I’ve ridden a couple times on the trail, but never to the end. I studied Google Maps so that I knew every turn and when the trail would end. Signage where I turned onto the Rookie Tri bike course says the trail is 7.75 miles long. But if you cross Decker Ln. you can ride another 2+ miles of trail just west of Decker Lake. If you parked at Govalle Neighborhood Park and rode the entire out and back you’d complete ~20 miles. I don’t think I got lost, but there were a couple times where I second-guessed where I was. I ended up riding 32 miles in 2:11:33.

My solo bike ride

The Southern Walnut Creek Trail is perfect for introductory bike rides. The trail is 10-feet wide in most places and only narrows on some bridges. There is an honest incline once you get towards the end of the trail, but otherwise, it’s relatively smooth. The trail follows Daffen Ln. and ends near Decker Elementary School. This is where my journey on the Rookie Tri bike course began. I’m familiar with the course, having cycled on it and run on it during the 2016 Decker Challenge. I know where the hills are, I know where the sharp turns are, I know where the shoulders disappear because of the bridges (side note: know your cycling hand signals to let others know your intentions).

solo bike ride

Know your cycling hand signals.

The wind was blowing so strong that there were times where I could barely control my wobbling bike. I managed, but at times I would have to drop a gear when cycling into the headwind. It was nice when the wind was at my back, but that wasn’t as frequent. It was normally head on or hitting me from the sides! I pushed through the inclines, tamed the wind, and eventually made it back to Decker Elementary. Boy was I happy to see that school, it meant I was at the Southern Walnut Creek Trail entrance. I popped off my bike for a few minutes and sat under a tree eating some energy beans and drinking my nuun performance.

I hopped back on my bike to complete my last real trek into the headwind. Riding alongside Daffen Ln. didn’t get any better with the wind until I crossed Johnny Morris Rd. and turned south on the trail. The wind died down a bit once I was back on the trail, but there were a few gusts that made sure I paid attention. The views along the trail are phenomenal this time of year, especially with water in Walnut Creek.

After my solo bike ride

solo bike ride

32 miles. DONE.

Aside from general soreness after my 32-mile solo bike ride, the pain I felt most was from sitting on my seat. I’ll spare you the details. Remember, I’ve never pedaled more than 18 miles. The last 6-8 miles weren’t my fastest because I was standing up at certain times, not pedaling. Thank goodness the Rookie Tri bike course is only 11.2 miles!

Want to take the same route I did but with a group? Then join the Austin Tri Club’s group ride on April 21st!

Pre-Purchase 2018 Race Photos

Remember Race Day!

rookie tri finish line photosNow you can purchase your photos at a discounted price!

For only $19.99 (regular price $39.99), you can receive the FinisherPix Photo Pack in Digital Format.

The FinisherPix Photo Pack includes ALL photos we identify of you in all digital formats (Basic digital image, Digital images with Finish Time, Digital images in certificate format.)

A link to download all images will automatically be emailed to you when photos are available online.

So wear your bib proud and smile for the camera!

Pre-Purchase Your Photos

Rookie Triathlete: Part 5: Graduate

Time to graduate from the safe pool to the open waters of Barton Springs

Image of Deep Eddy Pool.

Deep Eddy Pool.

Just a few days ago I wrote about swimming being as difficult as I’d imagined. All of my swimming, except one swim, had taken place at Big Stacy Pool. I was comfortable at that pool. There were familiar faces. My routine was consistent: change clothes, swim, shower. On April 9th I show up for my regular lunchtime swim to find out Big Stacy is closed until the end of the month! What?! Doesn’t the City of Austin know I’m training for my first triathlon?! And to think, I was getting more and more comfortable in the water. Now what do I do?! Graduate.

I knew of a few other pools, so I skipped across town to Deep Eddy Pool. The adjustment took time out of my swim workout, but I had to get in a swim. The switch made me get out of my comfort zone. New location, more traffic, different showers, $3 entry fee, etc. This was a baby graduation. I had to learn about a new (to me) pool and all of its nuances, including the temperature difference. The water temperature was closer to that of Barton Springs (~68 degrees). Deep Eddy isn’t free to use like Big Stacy, which added to my process. Side note – Deep Eddy pool is the oldest pool in Texas, built during the Depression Era.

By now, swimming laps has honed in my stroke and breathing. My familiarity with swimming and level of comfort in the water has grown exponentially since my first swim. Less time is spent on each end of the pool catching my breath. What’s next? Graduate.

Become comfortable with the uncomfortable

This graduation will be bigger. At first, I was uncomfortable swimming longer distances. I’ve since become comfortable. Now it’s time to revisit being uncomfortable again.

graduate

Barton Springs.

I’m planning my first open swim (since my mock Rookie Tri championship) in Barton Springs. The lanes aren’t 25m or 33.3m. They don’t have a black line guiding me under water. There aren’t lane lines to keep other swimmers from swimming in my direction. Basically, all comforts of the pool are gone. But, this is essential and I need to swim in open water before Rookie Tri. Afterall, the swim portion of Rookie Tri takes place in Decker Lake, not Decker Pool.

If you’re just starting out like me, don’t spend 100% of your time in the pool. Become comfortable with swimming in the pool, then branch out. Being as prepared as you can for Sunday, May 6th, will ensure a much better experience!

What to Wear on Race Day

What do I wear on race day?” That’s one of the most common questions we receive.

This is both a simple and a complex question. In reality, you can wear anything, but there are some things you should consider purchasing to make your triathlon experience more comfortable. There are numerous options for what you should wear on race day. Find what works for you and stick with it!

The most important part of this outfit is that you try it out before race day. If you don’t have the opportunity to go for a swim before your bike ride, just use a garden hose. While it may draw some looks from the neighbors, you will be happy to know what to expect on race day.

The Basics

Just not cotton. You want breathable athletic wear to wear on race day. This can something like a swimsuit or workout shorts.

Upgrades

Triathlon shorts and top.

Tri shorts have a small bit of padding that will make your bike ride much more comfortable, but not be too bulky on the run. Shorts should fit snugly and not hang off the body.

Tri tops have pockets in the back that are perfect for carrying some fuel with you on the bike. They also dry quickly. Some even come with a built-in sports bra. You want a sports bra that is supportive enough for running.

The one piece. If you can find one that fits you well then this is the easiest way to go. Set it and forget it – no readjusting your top or shorts along the way.

Each brand is cut a little differently so don’t be discouraged if the first one doesn’t fit.

 

          

Pro Status

Add a swim skin or wetsuit.

Swimskin = reduced drag in the water, but no buoyancy.

Wetsuit = reduced drag in the water, buoyancy, and warmth.

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