Serpentine Swim Success

The serpentine swim is the start in many sprint triathlons with indoor swims. Swimmers are started at one corner of the pool and will swim up and down each lane and under the lane dividers to cover the distance. Depending on the length of the swim, there may be a lane that the swimmers do not lap, just swim once. It is important to look at the athlete information provided to be prepared. It will set you up for a smooth experience to kick off your race. Here are a few important tips to remember:

  • If the race director asks for your estimated swim time in the registration process, do not guess! Practice the distance at race pace and provide a time that is realistic for you.
  • At some races they will have you line up with others who will swim the same pace. The same rule applies above, be prepared and know what your time should be.
  • As always in triathlon, pace yourself! There might be participants and spectators surrounding the pool. Do not get caught up in the excitement, start at an easy pace and build to your race pace as you get your breathing under control.
  • Passing: If you are on someone’s toes, gently tap. This person should move over to the right (this might be you!) to allow for you to pass. Go on by as quickly as you can, but be aware of swimmers coming in the other direction!
  • Stay to the right!
  • If you are coming to the end of the lane and you know an athlete is right on your toes, stop and let them go by before switching lanes.
  • NO flip turns unless you have practiced a flip turn at an angle and can avoid any other swimmers around you.

Serpentine swims can be a nightmare if athletes over or under estimate their times or submit a time that is faster than they can complete in an effort to “get ahead” or to be on the bike sooner. To avoid passing, being passed, and major frustration, please prepare for the swim and follow the tips above.

At TriZou this weekend, swimmers will seed themselves on the pool deck according to estimated swim times. Extimate your 400m swim time before race day! Test it, even by 100m. Below is the description straight from the TriZou race directors. It might be repetitive, but worth reading again! Have a great swim and enjoy your race.

Swim Course Information:

  • The popular indoor swim is held in the competition pool at the MU Student Recreation Complex (8 x 50-meter laps).
  • “Snake-Style” Swim – Swimmers will start individually, swimming one behind the other. You will do “laps” to the end of the pool (swim to the end of one lane, duck under the ropes and swim to the end of that lane, duck under the ropes, and so on).
  • Swimmers will line up according to swim time. Please time yourself at 400 Meters before the race so that you can estimate an accurate time. If you estimate your time too fast or too slow, it will hurt your overall time and the others around you. Your best time will come if you do not pass or get passed. We reserve the right to remove athletes from the pool and re-start them if needed.
  • If you must pass, simply tap the toes of the person in front of you. If your toes are tapped, move to the side and let the person through.