This morning while walking my dogs, I ended up wading waist deep into a raging torrent of rainwater in order to retrieve a ball dropped into a normally benign stream by my spaniel Bertie. As well as highlighting the natural pecking order that exists between me and my dogs, it also underlined something that all triathletes know – that there is no dignified way to enter water.
There are many opportunities for triathletes to enter water either pre- or mid-race and, thanks to the emergence of Swimrun events that have you hopping in and out of rivers, lakes and ditches on a routine basis, these have only increased in number and difficulty. I have seen and used many different techniques for getting into water over the years and here are my top 10…
Arrive on the riverbank, sit down and then slide into the water on your backside, pushing yourself down the bank with your arms while tearing tiny holes in your wetsuit.
Run into the lake but quickly realise that your stride isn’t big enough to step over the water, and your legs aren’t strong enough to power through it, so end up doing some kind of stiff-legged shuffle where you look like you’re trying to knee the water out of the way.
During a swim down the Thames where, we had to get out at locks, I took a running jump off the lock wall back into the river. I spent the next 5mins looking for my goggles!
MINISTRY OF SILLY WALKS
Your intention’s again to run through the water. However, it’s too deep for you to be able to lift your foot out as you stride forward, so instead you do this flappy legs run with your feet flicking out like John Cleese in a Monty Python sketch.
Run down the bank at top speed headfirst, reaching the water at terminal velocity where hopefully it’s deep enough to stop you face planting into the riverbed. I did this down a steep concrete slipway at a Swimrun race last year and I saw the marshal cover her eyes rather than witness the moment of impact.
Occasionally you’ll arrive at some jetty or pontoon where a dive is required. Unfortunately, diving isn’t high on the skillset of most triathletes, and wetsuits can restrict the springiness of your legs, so most of us look like someone’s just felled a tree. I remember ‘diving’ into the lake at Holme Pierrepoint once and the slap as I hit the water could be heard in Nottingham.
TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS
This involves stepping gingerly into the water as though treading on mousetraps, while holding your arms in the air and making various monkey like noises as the water hits the small of your back.
The water you must swim in lies at the bottom of a steep bank, so you grip the top of the bank and start side stepping down it, still clinging on to the top of the bank until the telescopic range of your arms reach their limit, whereupon you let go and stumble down the last few steps in a mini-Banzai fashion.
You enter the water through a gap in the reeds and nettles, and step straight into an underwater hole in which you wallow unable to move while everyone around you wades past on firm ground.
DOWN THE LADDER
I saw someone do this at a tri in Plymouth, and it involved climbing down a bank backwards on their hands and knees like a black rubber Spiderman. Effective but easily one of the most undignified water entries I have ever seen.
Have I missed any? Let me know on Twitter @220Triathlon of any techniques you employ and I’ll (potentially) give them a go myself
More by Martyn Brunt