6 transition tips for exiting open-water

Exiting open water is an often overlooked part of the triathlon swim, but it is where many seconds can be gained and lost. Chrissie Wellington shares her 6 top tips for getting out of the water efficiently…

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1. Swim toward the finish, making sure you sight correctly using the obvious landmarks around the swim exit. Kick a little harder during the last 200m to get your leg muscles firing, but try to remain calm and prepare yourself mentally for the transition from swim to bike.


2. If you’re in the ocean, use the waves to propel yourself forward, body surfing them as they near the beach. You may need to increase your stroke rate and kick faster to catch the wave. Don’t stop or stand up until your fingers scrape the bottom (or you reach the exit steps/ramp), then take a deep breath and pull yourself up slowly. There are often helpers on hand to hoist you up but don’t rely on this.

3.  There are some open-water swims where the course is two laps, with a short run on the beach in-between. It’s important to stand up slowly and jog (rather than sprint the run), otherwise you risk dizziness and a heart rate spike. Either way, once your swim is done and you’re upright, lift your goggles onto your head or take them off completely and hold onto them.

Beat dizziness after the swim

4. When you’re standing on solid ground, start to walk (more experienced athletes will jog or run) and begin to unzip your wetsuit with one hand.

 5. Remove your arms one at a time and pull the suit down to your waist. Continue walking/jogging/running to the transition area, shaking your arms and hands lightly and watching for any sharp objects or obstacles on the ground. (Be aware some races, such as The London Triathlon, require you to remove your wetsuit entirely before you enter the transition area. Always check the rules.)

6. Pull your wetsuit down so that it’s below your knees. Step out of one leg, and tread on the wetsuit to help pull the other leg out. Some races may even provide ‘wetsuit strippers’. If so, flop onto your backside, with your legs straight out and lift your hips as they pull the rubber off for you. Take your hat and goggles off if you haven’t done so already. 


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