What is the relationship between marathon swimmers and triathletes?

loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
edited February 2016 in General Discussion

By which I mean are marathon swimmers elitist or snobbish about triathletes?

This discussion is initiated from an comment in another thread that we marathon swimmers are both elitist and snobbish w.r.t. triathletes.

This is an accusation I'm sure many of us have had levelled at us previously. I certainly have, despite numerous answers to triathletes who've asked me questions about open water swimming, holding open water Q & As on triathlete forums, and writing a number of triathlete specific articles on my blog.

I ask the questions about triathletes, rather than triathlons, because I'm pretty sure most of us are _to some degree, (as previously discussed in other threads), dismissive, snobbish and elitist of some facets of _triathlons. Is there a difference between triathlons and triathletes?

I think this results from:

  • What many of feel is the enforcement of wetsuits on any of us should we participate.
  • There's my own particular dislike of wetsuits as a substitute for experience (Got a wetsuit? You're fine. Swam the Channel? Have to wear a wetsuit).
  • Also associated would be the accepted use of equipment to improve performance (what I call buying speed),
  • Lack of pre-event experience vetting
  • Maybe even the conflation of a single corporation with endurance sport excellence (Ironman).

I'll tell one anecdote. About eight or nine years ago, I thought I might join a triathlete group for their open water sessions. I didn't know any of them and got a phone number for the main organiser. Had a chat, mentioned I had some open water experience and was looking for a group to train with. All good. As I was about to say goodbye, since I hadn't met anyone in person, I said I wouldn't be wearing a wetsuit, if that helped identify me. At that point the conversation went shouty. The above accusations of arrogance and elitism were thrown at me. As a consequence I never did show up at the group, as I felt extremely unwelcome, and I've continued my lone pursuit.

One anecdote means little though. We recognise the elite amongst us on this forum with no difficulty, and enriched to have your/their participation.
In personal relationships with triathletes I think we try to help and encourage more of them over to what they see as the dark side.

I wanted to open these questions up to the community, expecially including those of you who are current or former triathletes.

And if so what, if anything, should we do? Is it just a fact of life that, since you can't please everyone, as non-wetsuit elite open water swimmers (and every marathon swimmer is _elite_by normal standards), we will always be some kind of perceived opposition, and visa versa?




  • 50 words or less... Triathletes hold OW LD swimmers in very high regard, OWLD swimmers hate triathletes.

    Life is too short and too much fun to care about haters.

    tortugadpm50[Deleted User]chatter97quickchic4l
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    My swim coach is a professional triathlete who came to it from a swimming background (US National team 25k swim, can't remember year offhand). As an athlete, he's very driven, works very hard at all the disciplines of the triathlon. He also coaches triathletes as well as swimmers. My experience: if you choose him to be your coach, whether swimming only (as in my case) or in triathlon, you can expect to work hard. He asks for our best efforts. As a result, my swimming has improved over the past couple years to the point where I feel ready to try longer swims. I'm no star athlete. My speed still isn't "elite" by any means, but I'm developing skills I didn't have when I first started working with him. He pushes us all, triathletes included, to work on other strokes besides freestyle, to master the flip turn, etc.

    He also takes time during practice w the slower as well as the faster swimmers and and offers great feedback on technique, challenges us to step up our game. I started in the slowest lane, and now he won't let me swim there.

    I feel very fortunate to have this trathlete as my coach, and my experience with trathletes generally has been good. We're all seeking to become our strongest selves, regardless of the sport. I came into master's swimming as a runner, and I still run--not a triathlete...no interest in the bike part, but lots of respect for my triathlete friends. Some of them in my group only just started swimming recently and with our coach have made significant improvement. People start in different places with different skill levels and if they stay with the group I'm in, they are aiming high, asking more of themselves, and each step forward is worth celebrating, whether it's a first sprint tri or an iron distance or a marathon swim.

    One thing I learn from having friends in the slowest and the fastest lanes is that in many ways during practice and elsewhere we're in it together. We're stretching limits together. We're dealing with the self doubts and aspirations together. And so we cheer one another on...and push one another on. And celebrate the victories both small and large.

    I don't therefore look down on triathletes. I can't afford to.

  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member

    I must be lucky. At the facility where I train the most often, I have gotten to know some really good triathletes (Kona Iron Man, etc.). I get along quite well them and there is mutual respect. (However, ironically, I find that the less accomplished (and maybe less aware) triathletes can be on the arrogant side.)

  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member

    I don't dislike triathletes, however I dislike the fact that triathlons seem to be largely about using the best technology available on the market and always looking to make it easier.

    Items such as the IOLITE device which reduces the need to spot / navigate in open water are just cheating to me. Then there are the £5,000 bicycles, £1,000 wetsuits etc. It all seems a bit much. However, there is a certain amount of irony there given that my channel swim would have cost in excess of £5,000 (!). I think there are arguments both ways!

    The wetsuit thing doesn't particularly bother me, other than the smell makes me gag. It's not what I do, but I don't enter triathlons. If a swim event is wetsuit compulsory then they've lost my entry fee and there are plenty of people to fill the spot I would have taken. From my point of view there are plenty of other non-wetsuit swims out there.

    What I dislike most though is the comments from triathletes and the requirement to sign disclaimers all the time- I turn up to my local lake early season for a swim, and all I get is "you must be crazy", "you must be mad" "You obviously don't feel the cold" etc. "No, actually, I'm not enjoying freezing my bits off but it's an essential part of my training!" It grates on me after several years of the same comments at the same lake......

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    edited February 2016

    Triathletes impress me as athletes, no doubt. No way would I go from swimming two and a quarter miles to biking 100 and running 26. I am genuinely impressed by the endurance they have. The one triathlete I know well (we cross paths in the gym locker room a lot) is really, no kidding, an amazing athlete, and a much better swimmer than I am (most people are, for what it's worth).

    But they're doing something very different from what I am doing. I'm not competing with anyone but ME, and to be frank, I don't think that on the whole, they're.... waterbabies, for want of a better term. I think for many of them (by no means all!) the swim is something scary and uncomfortable to get through any way they can. Which is fine. They can do that and they're still a much better athlete than I'll ever be.

    When I'm out in the lake or the ocean, trying something a little scary and stretching myself, it's about the joy of it. Maybe there are triathletes who do feel that way about it, but I don't run across those conversations. I do a LOT when I read what people who are primarily open water swimmers are writing about and discussing. (And yes, I was told I was "brave" for swimming the last Boston Sharkfest skins. I think that was a bit silly. The water was nearly 70F!)

  • tortugatortuga Senior Member

    I dislike in general any attitude of "my tribe is better than your tribe...". It happens with many athletes discussing athletes from different disciplines. I can respect the athleticism required an any sport, as well as non-sports like dancers etc. There is no need for snobbery from any discipline. It's juvenile.

    dpm50mysterybobChasdetrosemarymintDanSimonelliKate_Alexanderswimrn62klassmannabilrad[Deleted User]
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Where to begin?

    Lots of us have done triathlons at some point. I did them in the 90s because there weren't enough open water swims to make a summer. I suck at running, so when I discovered bike racing, it was easy to quit triathlons. Bike racers seemed to have a lot more disgust toward triathletes than swimmers do. Lots of complaints about safety and etiquette, individual glory vs. team strategy and who shows up for a group training ride on a time trial bike, expecting to ride on aero bars?

    What it boiled down to was skill, or lack thereof. Pretty much the same issue we are talking about as swimmers.

    I teach swimming, so I encounter lots of not-very-good swimmers who are trying to improve their swimming or get ready for their first event. Sometimes I'm amazed at the courage (or foolhardiness) they have to enter an event that includes something they have no idea how to do. I give them credit for investing in their skill, rather than a more expensive wetsuit.

    As a lifeguard, I'm in a position to educate folks about inappropriate lap lane behavior, which I relish doing. We all encounter these guys in the fast lanes...super-fit, horrible stroke, giant ego...absolutely certain that they should push off ahead of a not-so-svelte swimmer, 25 years their senior. Triathletes are people, some of them are jerks, just like everywhere else in life, and many of them are awesome.

    Triathlon is an industry centered around marketing expensive gear to people who can afford it. Lots of triathletes are the super-competitive types, who will buy the newest model of anything that they are convinced will allow them to move up a place or two in their age group. Races are sponsored by equipment manufacturers and race directors want a sold-out event, to maximize profit and sponsor exposure. This usually means attracting more people to the event, whether they actually have the skill to complete the swim or not. From a liability standpoint, I get why race directors push wetsuits, it's nearly a lifejacket. It's a cop-out for real safety coverage, much like the trend of requiring swimmers to tow a float in a race.

    Unfortunately this attitude has bled over to swimming, even at the level of FINA. We can let race directors know how we feel and vote with our $ by not attending events that require wetsuits or floaties.

    On a personal level, we can choose our attitudes and how we represent our sport. I can't think of a marathon swimmer I've met who I would classify as snobby, all of them have been nothing but supportive, generous and humble. I try to keep it classy and gracious, (although sometimes I get pissed off when the same guy clobbers me in the head three times because he wants to go the wrong way). At the same time, I enjoy every moment of beating those fit young guys in the $1400 wetsuits.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    edited February 2016

    Denver has A LOT of triathletes. Lap pools are clogged with people who are wearing wet suits and MP3 players. The main training lake we have access to in town is clogged with people in wet suits who do not know how to swim, but feel invincible because they're wearing a flotation device. More than once, friends of mine have had to rescue someone freaking out because of cold or wind, who had no business being out there. I was once in a crowded lap lane, trying to get some extra yards in before a masters practice. A guy claiming to be an elite triathlete stopped the entire lane and asked that we all swim a set together. When I refused, he went on to tell others in the lane that I have a terrible stroke (fair enough) and don't know how to swim (though he didn't know how to do flip turns...). Later, when the lap lane transitioned from lap swimming to Masters practice, the guy refused to get out or do the group workout. The coach had to call security to have the guy removed from the pool.

    We call them tri-tards for a reason.

    So, I would say that, here, there's a strong triathlete culture and many of them do NOT respect open water swimmers.

    However, I get stopped constantly at the pool by triathletes asking for swim or training tips. Last summer, we had a triathlete who decided to swim the Catalina Channel. He's a very fast pool swimmer and great triathlete, but he was really great in asking for advice, training tips, nutrition advice, etc. I think he learned first-hand how hard it is to do what we do.

    I have to remind myself that for every ONE really obnoxious, egomaniac tri-tard, there are probably 10 kind, hard working, respectful people out doing a sport they love- who DO really, really respect the swimming ability of a long distance open water swimmer. Unfortunately, those folks are overshadowed by the idiots mentioned above.

    I try to always, always keep an open mind and to be helpful, kind, and inclusive- until someone shows me I'm wrong and that they're a jerk. I have a lot of respect for most of them- many are conquering fears of open water and they're skilled in two sports in which I'm awful. It's just too bad some of them have their heads so far up their rears that they can't reciprocate the respect.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    Oh, and I agree with pretty much everything @wendyv34 said in her post. I get no greater joy in life than gliding past some young dude in a wet suit who thinks he's the greatest swimmer in the lake, then getting to the other end and having him realize that not only am I a GIRL, but I'm 10 years older and chubbier. The nice ones will smile and nod or ask to swim a lap with me. The not-so-nice ones will huff and puff and look like I insulted their mother. I enjoy either outcome.

  • rlmrlm Senior Member

    Great discussion...very interesting experiences and perspectives. Anyway, I would say generalizations are prone to error and long distance open water swimming and triathlons are very different sports!!! Each to enjoy!!!

  • andissandiss Senior Member

    As an ex triathlete - i now have a proper distaste of the relentless focus on gear and the anorexic lifestyle.

    All you need for swimming is 4 things - togs, googles, hat and earplugs. It's actually great FINA banned all the high tec suits.

    here in west cork we all get a long - the triathletes are a great crew and the swims are mixed - all happy with plenty of cake afterwards! Just as it should be!

  • Everyone gets cranky in a crowded lane at the local Y. The damn water walkers, the damn whole lane breastrokers. Most of us most of the time try our best to be generous and open to others and most of us sometimes get shitty. I hate that Iron Man equals triathlon. Personally, as a fairly decent Olympic Distance triathlete, I hate that we talk about "full distance" equals 140.6. WTF, 51.5k is an ass kicker thank you very much. And as a Marathon swimmer, I get annoyed with the arrogance of the cold water, wetsuits never arguments, especially regarding the recent FINA rules. That's a whole different sport for goodness sake! What makes a bunch of amateur athletes think they know better than the governing body (which includes lots of input from those athletes and their coaches) about how to conduct an event for elite caliber athletes. Just do your thing and know you are happier when you can support anyone else doing their thing. I'm sorry to all those water walkers who I've grumbled at many a time at my local pools. Do your thing and keep it moving.

  • ChrisBChrisB Issaquah, WAMember

    Tough to stereotype Triathletes and compare to Marathon swimmers as they probably outnumber marathon swimmers 100-1 (if not more). Would marathon swimmers want to be grouped in with all the sprint 50m freestylers in their fancy $150 tech suits?

    IMO there are triathletes who are only there for the journey and accomplishment of finishing as more of a personal test which closely relates to the attitude of many Marathon Swimmers. I don't hear many (if any) Marathon swimmers emphasizing "time" over "completion" unlike competitive pool swimmers and some triathletes.

    The relationship between the two groups is that they share a common medium and with a subset of triathletes have conflicting goals (time vs. accomplishment). I admire both and I think that a few bad personalities and/or ignorance (how to swim in a pool) can skew the impression but there are a lot of good triathletes out there and many are just trying to accomplish similar personal goals.

  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member

    I am lucky enough to coach and train many triathletes who are lovely people. Of course, my operation is pretty specific since they are coming to my home and I'm pretty picky about who I agree to coach.

    The tri-folks I work with are great, high-achieving and wanting to learn.
    I do often have to remind them that sometimes, they have to slow down to get faster, that working on technique matters and ultimately, is going to do more for them than the cat-scratch swimming they've got going on.

    And I'm clear with them that swimming 1000 yards once a week isn't going to cut it. When I tell them that they wouldn't expect time gains from that methodology if applied to running or cycling, they get it. Some are ready to put in the work, others aren't--but they know that I've been honest with them.

    I should also say that the triathletes I work with are all well over 30, and there's no machismo happening. They are doing it for the love of doing it, and while they often think too much---TOTAL OVERTHINK---they are generally great to work with.

    We also have a few on our Masters team, but strangely, none in my lane.

    You want to know who's really hard? The guys that used to play water polo. Don't even get me started on those... ;)

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    "Cat-scratch swimming". I love it!

    One of the polo players I know swims with I style that I call "brutalizing the water". He's crazy fast, even with his head up, (frowning at the person impeding his progress in the lane). Outside of the water, he's a nice enough dude.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member

    Chasdet said:

    What makes a bunch of amateur athletes think they know better than the governing body (which includes lots of input from those athletes and their coaches) about how to conduct an event for elite caliber athletes.

    Respectfully, @Chasdet, I agree with many of your points, but please remember Fran Crippen. FINA has a history of not incorporating input from athletes and coaches.

  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber
    edited February 2016

    @ssthomas @AnthonyMcCarley @SydneD et al.
    So much truth from everyone.
    Two different sports,most are lovely and agree most are also just out to have a good time.
    I am past the point of passing anyone but I do have one great memory.
    Walking along Aquatic Park, two young ( 30's?) dudes w their wetsuits stripped to their waist , strutting along. Yes, strutting is the right word. And, they DID have very nice physiques.
    I couldn't resist.. me in my gray baggy sweatshirt, flip flops, raggedy hair.. and shorts.
    I walked up to them... and asked..in an"oh my gosh...sweet voice"
    "Are you going to SWIM IN THAT??"
    Them-- yes.. it's very cold..
    Me- how cold?
    Them- 50 or so?
    Me..as I pick up my speed and look back..It's 62F and it's lovely! I swim every day and never wear a wetsuit.
    So.. in this case I was the annoying prat.. but I just couldn't stand the strutting and the magnification of how "cold " it was.
    So , it works both ways.
    Most of the time though, I'm sort of tolerant and do my best to get them out of the flotation device..(aka wetsuit) and encourage them to be safe and have fun.

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member

    loneswimmer said:

    Tagged: triathlon, triathlete, arrogance, snob


  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    edited February 2016

    I will make a confession. .. I participated in the swim leg of a triathlon relay last year. But I didn't wear a wetsuit. Don't hate now! :)

  • I've done many Olympic distance triathlons and trained with a tri group for about 3 years, the pool speed sessions really helped. I admire their superb all round athleticism and they were equally impressed by my willingness to endure far longer swims than any of them ever contemplated. There was zero antagonism, we became firm friends. I guess we all had open minds.

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    Full disclaimer. I started out in this crazy endurance sport world as a triathlete. A slow fat one. I've migrated to being a long-distance open water swimmer because I enjoy it more, but I'm still friends with and still hang out with a ton of triathletes. They view me with a huge amount of respect (for the most part) because they can't fathom doing what I do and doing it without a wet suit. I view them (for the most part) with a huge amount of respect because I am SO not a land mammal and I can't fathom doing what they do without a nap in the middle. I get irritated with some of them who can't sight worth shit and who manage to crash into me in the middle of the effing ocean during a group swim. I help others who are struggling with getting over their fear of being in the open water because i want them to experience what I love so much, even if it's in just a small way and while being encased in rubber. I get irritated by all their toys and complicated things. They constantly ask where's my wettie. And then we go out for brunch and laugh at all the crazy shit we do for fun. But I also am really lucky and I've made friends with great people. There are exceptions, natch.

    Triathletes I've no problem with, for the most part. I have a problem if you show up for an open water race and "fake the swim" because you didn't bother to train or learn to swim.

    Triathlons, however, have become no fun with all of the pomp and waivers and sanitization and money and formality and gear and equipment snobbery. I've not done one since 2012. I'm OK with that, though I'm sure there will come a time when I'll do the occasional short one for fun.

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    I did tris in my youth in the early 80s. They were fun. That's my caveat.

    I find more humor in triathletes than hate or dislike. I've written in my blog a few times about the funny things I've heard from triathletes at "triathlete-run" OW swims. Silly things like "4 laps of 1k each? I think I'll do 2 and quit." Or watch the guys swim by me with a pull buoy between their legs. Or walk in the shallow parts of the loops. THose things are annoying.

    But I coached triathletes for a year and it was great fun. Most of them enjoyed my OW specific practices and asked all kinds of questions. Very nice folks. But I still laugh at them when they're talking about all the $ they spend on tech.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited February 2016

    Two of my most productive years of marathon swimming happened when I had a pro triathlete as a training partner. We both had great mutual respect, for doing things athletically that the other couldn't or wouldn't.

    Triathlon attracts orders of magnitude more participation than marathon swimming ever will. It gets people into the open water who might not otherwise ever try. Some aren't water-safe even in a wetsuit, but I think most become better swimmers as a result of their participation in triathlon. And a few even go on to become marathon swimmers after their knees give out or a bike crash takes them out of the game.

    All considered, I think the sport of triathlon benefits the sport of open water swimming (even the purist discipline of marathon swimming that this Forum promotes).

    Occasionally, due to triathlon's enormous popularity and market-share, its cultural norms have a way of "infecting" OWS activities, such as when:

    • organizers of straight-up open water swims (no multi-sport) mandate wetsuits for participation (the erroneous assumption being that you can't be safe without one)
    • organizers of open water swims don't offer separate categories or distinguish in the results (e.g., Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, my personal pet peeve)
    • the popularity of wetsuits (due to the popularity of triathlon) breeds an assumption among new swimmers that wetsuits are necessary for swimming, leading to a self-fulfilling cycle of increased wetsuit-wearing. It's not until these people visit places like Dover or San Francisco's Aquatic Park, and see dozens of people swimming comfortably in sub-60F water, that they realize you don't actually need a wetsuit to swim in open water.

    So I support triathlon (and triathletes) -- and also promote OWS/marathon swimming as a separate and distinct sport, with distinct norms, equipment, etc.

    Befriend triathletes! Persuade them by example of the joys of swimming with just the basics -- swimsuit, cap, goggles. I see it happen all the time in SF, and it's beautiful to behold.

    klassmantortugadpm50DanSimonellirosemarymintKate_Alexander[Deleted User]bluemermaid9
  • klassmanklassman VirginiaMember

    This thread has a lot in with which I can agree. In the end, I have to say it is more about the individual and not the group. I'm a triathlete. Last year I learned about marathon swimming for the first time in my 40 years. Other than the English Channel or someone breaking into national news for trying something like a Cuba-Miami swim, I had no idea about the sport. I signed up for a nine mile ocean swim and then found this site. I loved the race, keep coming back to the site and am eager to do two marathon swims in 2016. Late in the year I also did my first ultramarathon -- a 50+ mile run.

    In my experience, the vast majority of the triathlon community is taking part for intrinsic reasons -- a challenge, to improve or stretch oneself, fitness, to be with friends etc. It really is a minority of them who are overwhelming twats with the competition and excessive talk about watts, miles and gear. The ultra running community -- in my limited experience -- is like a full motion hippie convention. EVERYONE is out there for the nature, the movement, the endorphins and the community and the races are just convenient ways to organize group runs. The OWS/marathon swimming community -- like the running, I have limited experience -- is slightly more uptight than the runners but **overwhelmingly **friendly, supportive and driven by the love of water, motion and the good feelings that come from being involved.

    It really is only a handful of people -- who we find in all aspects of life -- who cannot be kind or helpful to others who need a pointer or a hand.

    I suspect that there is a mild divide in all of these groups among the "old timers" and the "newcomers." We want our sport to gain popularity to increase the number of races, improve gear, lower registration costs or whatever...but, with each wave of newcomers there are new attitudes. For example, in the ultra community there is grumbling about "marathoners" who focus too much on making the courses standardized instead of letting each ultra be unique with quirky distances like 51.2 miles instead of a round 50 or 52.4 (double marathon). The grumbling comes from the pioneers of the sport who have been around or from people who are compelled to compare their times, but rather just soak up the experience. It is a tension, but nothing that cannot be handled with a good sense of humor and an open mind.

    I love to race. There is nothing else like it in my life. But I also love how swimming in open water gives me access to something beautiful and eternal. I'm in the all of the above category. I even started playing pick up water polo with other middle age folks -- the difference being that they all played in college and I didn't. The physicality of the sport, the speed and strategy -- it too is something I look forward to having in my life. Each is different...and I try to find what is wonderful in each.

  • klassmanklassman VirginiaMember

    I should add, every single person -- without exception -- that I've asked for help or advice in the OWS swimming community has been tremendous. I don't know what I'm doing yet I've learned so much since last June. I've not had one bad experience with the marathon swimming community and I'm sure I've unwittingly said and done things that were offensive or stupid or whatever. I think you get back what you give to the world, so I try to be a good steward of the experience and lessons I've learned in other areas like with triathlon newbies or people who don't know pool etiquette (which is where I do 99 percent of my swim training).

  • tortugatortuga Senior Member

    @klassman - Very well said my brother. I too started in tri, then moved on to utras and long swimming (cycling chaps my ass). Totally enjoy the endeavors and communities in each. How'd you like your 50?

  • andissandiss Senior Member

    Everything that is wrong with triathlons can be summed up in this article!


  • klassmanklassman VirginiaMember

    @tortuga I loved it. Wrote about it here https://radicalimmersion.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/where-to-start-boonsboro/ and here https://radicalimmersion.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/the-trail-ends-in-williamsport/.

    Also, I know this will scandalize some folks, but I like to swim in just a suit and I like to swim in a wetsuit too -- I have three of them. My favorite gear of all time is probably my Roka speed suit -- from just above the knees to the shoulders and sleeveless, no neoprene but plenty of compression -- it makes me feel like a dolphin.

  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    edited February 2016

    All in good fun, Tri-geeks are skinny punks who are generally in the way of the serious swimmer; often substituting expensive gear for training. Not to mention the ever present cycling kit/singlet and neon racing shades. I've had my rec swim lane invaded many times by herds of these clowns and their laminated cards with workouts gotten from some kind of online "coach". I was told by one of these guys that they were doing an "organized" workout and that I could drop in with them. Ha ha ha, silly boys. My 10x200 on 2:15 trumps your 16x50 on 1:00. The starting line of an open water swim is even more comical. At a 1-mile race in Deerfield Beach years ago, one triathlete was asking me to point myself out in the crowd. There was a great look of amazement as he checked out my ample girth in disbelief. (I won the race and the overall series, btw.). I digress.

    The aforementioned full-suit "kit" is a must along with the "mask" to better see the other swimmers going over them as they drown in a sea of elbows. Dont forget the wrist GPS that will be monitored every 10 seconds to see how far off course they are.

    It's obviously unfair to catagorize all of the poser-Fred tri-geeks as zero-body fat Lycra wearing zealots who pray to the carbon fiber gods, but it sure is fun.

    Anyone want to go out for a pizza tonight?

  • tortugatortuga Senior Member

    @klassman nice write up. It really is all about the journey. Love your final paragraph:

    "The day was long. It was full of beauty and calm. I spent time thinking about a few hard things. I reflected on my father, his life and death. I spent a lot of time reveling in the beautiful tree-lined corridor. I don’t know where to start with a race report. Neither do I know where to end."

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    LOL Swimmer 25K! So many chuckles in one post! Were any of those guys wearing their caps sideways? It seems to happen with those swim masks, somehow.

    And of course, all in good fun. <:-P


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • msathletemsathlete Victoria, British Colubia, CanadaMember

    I swim with recreational swimmers, pool swimmers, triathletes, ironmen, open water swimmers and marathon swimmers. I've heard members of each of these groups make fun of or down right insult one another. It's rather unfortunate as I find each type of swimmer has something to contribute to the swim community.

    My preference is to swim with a swimsuit, cap and goggles, but I really don't mind if someone swims beside me with a wetsuit - nor do I mind if they swim beside me naked. As long as they are swimming and we are having fun :)

    Kelliedc_in_sfgregocdpm50tortuga[Deleted User]Solo
  • And as long as they're not breast-stroking around a buoy in a crowded open water swim :)

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    Honestly I think a lot of the antipathy/snobbery/whatever is down to the fear that swimming with a wetsuit will become the 'norm' for open water swimming as a result of sheer numbers of wetsuit only swimmers participating in open water events. I'm sure it is someone's personal nightmare that this could result in the CSA or CS&PF certifying wetsuit swims >:)


    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    A friend who also does the 5.5 mile swim I've been doing swims it breaststroke--and beats me and and quite a few others doing freestyle. He likes that he can see better doing breaststroke--but he does it pretty quickly. And I'm always astonished at the speed of breaststroke swimmers in meets--not your grandpa's breaststroke! My breaststroke is still a work in progress and definitely not race ready (except for occasional resting/sighting... but not around buoys, I promise! Our coach yells at anyone who does that during open water practice.

    Niek said:
    @Kellie They have to if they don't want to get disqualified during a breaststroke event.

    Plenty of them in the Netherlands and Belgium ranging from 1 km to 22 km

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    dc_in_sf said:
    Honestly I think a lot of the antipathy/snobbery/whatever is down to the fear that swimming with a wetsuit will become the 'norm' for open water swimming as a result of sheer numbers of wetsuit only swimmers participating in open water events.


    You hit the nail on the head. When I did my first 10K in 2010 (Dart 10K) it was mandatory to wear a wetsuit, unless you had cold water experience. Fine, fine. I bought a (then) FINA certified wetsuit, only to find out later it was no longer certified. (It was a farmer john or whatever they're called.) The DART folks, thankfully, didn't make me buy a new one or rent a nasty one, but they did make me fill out all the waivers and paperwork as if I were a skins swimmer.

    And in the end, I was totally turned off from wearing wetsuits. I had scars for over six months after the event, and I was just as cold as any of the skins swimmers, so I would have rather spent the time in togs than that stupid wetsuit.

    BTW, wetsuit for sale. Barely used.


    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member

    Kellie said:
    And as long as they're not breast-stroking around a buoy in a crowded open water swim :)

    Usually if they're breast stroking, they're way behind you.... (Guess how I know that?)

    And don't diss the noble breaststroke! ;) It was good enough for Captain Webb!

  • Ah, see in most of the ocean swims in Sydney they send people off in waves so you run into the breaststrokers from the wave before and the one before that and sometimes the one before that. It's actually not the breaststrokers that I mind - it's the freestylers who switch to breaststroke to get around the buoys and I then only really mind when I get kicked in the face.

    Who knew there was so much love for breaststroke! Consider me educated :)

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member

    Well, won't deny that sighting skills have their place! (I was mostly being silly. I am having to train myself out of breast stroke as my go-to when I need to look around)

  • ttriventtriven Senior Member

    I swim with a triathlon and open water masters team. I did triathlons in the past, but mostly off the couch. My team members put me to shame every single workout. I am like, how can they always "try" so hard? Always! I mean, even in warm up, they don't stop on the wall and mess around?! And then, after we finish our super intense swim workout, they change, while half wet, into some awful sticky outfit and go work out some more, at super high intensity. Last week about 20 percent of them did a local marathon, then showed up Monday and worked out like it was just another day. Animals! Sure, they wear wetsuits, but they wouldn't last an hour without them in cold temps. Sure, they clock me in the head in ocean workouts with their swinging arms and their limited spacial awareness in the water. Sometimes they run into me head on and I have to move to the side. But I can't do what they do, so I give them my respect.

  • Kellie said:
    Ah, see in most of the ocean swims in Sydney they send people off in waves so you run into the breaststrokers from the wave before and the one before that and sometimes the one before that. It's actually not the breaststrokers that I mind - it's the freestylers who switch to breaststroke to get around the buoys and I then only really mind when I get kicked in the face.

    Who knew there was so much love for breaststroke! Consider me educated :)

    We have the same problem in Singapore, the second wave goes out as the slow breast strokers from the first wave are passing. The issue is not their stroke or speed but that they have the racing line and therefore get a whole bunch of adrenalin high free stylers going over the top of them. I've done it myself and find myself going 'sorry... sorry... sorry' whilst doing so, but when faced with 2-3 folks abreast of you (no pun intended) blocking your way whatelse can you do? Thy key is they're on the racing line.

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member

    I don't know much about open water races. I've only done one and that one allowed you to choose your wave based on your speed. Slowest in the last wave. Is this not the norm?

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    NoelFigart said:
    I don't know much about open water races. I've only done one and that one allowed you to choose your wave based on your speed. Slowest in the last wave. Is this not the norm?

    No. For the Dart 10K in 2011, they had the slowest start first (wave 1) and the fastest start last (wave 4). That way, most would finish at the same time. And yes, I had to swim through many breaststrokers swimming 2-3 abreast.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member

    wrinkles nose Not sure I like that method. I get the point, especially when you're dealing with closing off courses that are otherwise populated with boats n' stuff, but I think I like letting the slow people start later better all 'round.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    As a slow person, I have no problem starting later than the faster people, just as I wouldn't as a runner want to toe the line w the 5 minute milers. I kinda like not being trampled, lol! But one exception: if it's a small field and there's little chance of collision, I can see doing it the opposite way. I was in fact in a swim in which as a slower swimmer, I started earlier. I wouldn't have wanted to do that in a crowded race suchas many tris can be.

    A friend who runs some local races gets the r.d.'s permission to start early so as to finish before they take down the finish line. She doesn't want people to have to wait for her as her pace is a good bit slower. But by the official start, she's not blocking anyone.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Fat Salmon in Seattle does a 5-wave start for 350-400 swimmers total, slowest to fastest, about 3 minute apart. It's a point-to-point 3.2 mile swim that passes 2 marinas, so it makes sense for lifeguard/safety coverage. I felt like it worked well, much better than the mass start they used to do. The course is pretty wide and I didn't have any issues with passing people (I go in the 4th wave) nor did I feel like I was going to get run over by anyone from the last wave. There was a bit of congestion at the finish as there are rocks and a step up onto the bulkhead, but they have awesome people there that help you to not wipe out.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • The important thing is to have FUN and mass starts where slower folks get bashed or slower swimmers starting first and having faster folks come rampaging through is not necessarily fun for those suffering the knocks. Personally I usually back off at the start and let the adrenalin high swimmers charge off then as I reel them back in one by one I give them a mental wink and a smile.

  • Glad to see all the discussion. Seems like the majority are OK with everyone having a go at either sport and sharing training tips, lakes, oceans, rivers and pools and maybe this spirit will help eliminate the comments in the forum that sparked my original observation.

  • NikkiNikki Member

    Does anyone know if the elitist self-image of non-wetsuit swimmers in the US is unique to our country? I am an OW swimmer but my coldest temp where I'm ok without a wetsuit is 68 degrees. Having grown up in SoCal, this was the temp during the summer months, so this is where I plateued. My question though is related to an experience I had in Melbourne, Australia during my Honeymoon two years ago. I had signed up for a local OWS that was like 1.5 miles long. In other words, super short. The water temp was 72 degrees. Everyone was in a wet suit. Everyone! Except of course me and then this other woman I spotted. I said to her, "Looks like everyone is in a wetsuit, huh?" I was expecting some self-superior comment back to me to acknowledge how much more, I don't know, how much "better" we were than everyone else. You know what she said to me? She said, almost embarrassed, "It's because I don't have one." In other words, they're thinking, "well, why the heck wouldn't you wear a wetsuit if you can go faster in one?" Hmmm, something to think about.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    I think many of us have our limits as to how cold is too cold, so I'm not going to bust on anyone for wearing a wetsuit in order to maintain a safe body temperature. I'll admit to wearing a sleeveless wetsuit during the winter, partly because I'm too lazy/busy to spend nearly every day suffering to acclimate to colder temps. I certainly don't enjoy the discomfort of wearing it, but it usually comes down to how much more uncomfortable I'll be in cold air/water/wind and how long I want to swim. I have mad respect for people who can swim for hours below 50F, especially on a cool/cold day...that's bad-a**!

    Wearing a wetsuit to stay warm is different than wearing it to swim faster. I was at some races last year where the water was nearly 80 and many people still chose to wear wetsuits. Some of those races had separate categories, some didn't. I don't see how those folks didn't completely boil in their full suits, they looked like lobsters at the end. I gave a friend a hard time about his wetsuit and he told me he needed it to go fast. He's significantly faster than me in a wetsuit, a bit slower without.

    I don't seem to get any extra speed out of a wetsuit and my form goes to heck because my legs are too far out of the water, plus it takes most of the fun out of swimming for me. I chose not to wear a wetsuit at any races the past few years and I lost a few times to people wearing wetsuits, but I don't consider myself truly beaten by them until they do it without a wetsuit. The satisfaction of beating a field full of wetsuited swimmers without one is the real reward.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

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