Perfecting Your Swim Speed: How to Pace Your First Sprint Triathlon

Perfecting Your Swim Speed: How to Pace Your First Sprint Triathlon

There aren’t many things more exciting than standing at the edge of the water waiting to start your first sprint triathlon. You’ve trained hard, you’re excited, and your adrenaline is pumping.

But if you want to reach the finish line in the fastest time possible and enjoy your race along the way, it’s essential that you manage your excitement and stick to your sprint triathlon pacing strategy--especially during the swim. 


It’s all too easy to overexert yourself during the 750-metre swim and burn your energy reserves before you get to the 20-kilometre bike ride and five-kilometre run. And, if you don’t have enough gas in the tank, you’ll tire out and slow down as the race progresses.

Here’s how to pace the swim portion of your first sprint triathlon. 

Get a Gauge for How Long You’ll Be in the Water

It’s always helpful to understand what you can expect when you’re heading into a race, either for the peace of mind of knowing what your race day will look like or to help you set targets if your goal is to push yourself.

If you want to find out how long you can expect to be in the water during your race, you can test your current pace and then use a swim pace chart (like the one below) to estimate how long your 750-meter swim will likely take you.

On the other hand, if you want to push for the fastest swim possible, you can use the same swim pace chart to determine the pace you’ll need to maintain consistently over the course of 750 meters in order to achieve your target time. You can then compare that information to your current swim pace to figure out how much improvement you’ll need to make between now and race day. 

100 meters Full Sprint distance (750m) 100 yards Full Sprint Distance (830 yd)
3:40 27:30 3:20 27:34
3:35 26:53 3:15 27:06
3:30 26:15 3:10 26:37
3:25 25:38 3:05 25:29
3:20 25:00 3:00 25:01
3:15 24:23 2:55 24:32
3:10 23:45 2:50 23:24
3:05 23:08 2:45 22:56
3:00 22:30 2:40 22:27
2:55 21:53 2:35 21:19
2:50 21:15 2:30 20:51
2:45 20:38 2:25 20:22
2:40 20:00 2:20 19:14
2:35 19:23 2:15 18:45
2:30 18:45 2:10 18:17
2:25 18:08 2:05 17:09
2:20 17:30 2:00 16:40
2:15 16:53 1:55 16:12
2:10 16:15 1:50 15:04
2:05 15:38 1:45 14:35
2:00 15:00 1:40 14:07
1:55 14:23 1:35 13:39
1:50 13:45 1:30 12:30
1:45 13:08 1:25 12:02
1:40 12:30 1:20 11:34
1:35 11:53 1:15 10:25
1:30 11:15 1:10 9:57
1:25 10:38 1:05 9:29
1:20 10:00 1:00 8:20


Follow a Training Plan

Following a step-by-step training plan is the most effective way to get prepared for a triathlon of any distance--that’s why even the pros do it. 

But finding the right training plan can feel tricky, especially if it’s your first time doing a sprint triathlon. So, to make the process easier, we’ve created a quick quiz that will help you pick the right plan based on your goals and experience level.


Try the Quiz


Embrace the Right Mentality

Both in training and on race day, it’s important to embrace the mentality that your sprint triathlon is one extended race--not three separate ones. By approaching it as one 60- to 90-minute race, you’ll be able to practice a better pacing strategy than you would by trying to max out the swim, bike, and run.

Start Steadily

On race day, do your best to calm your nerves, excitement, and adrenaline. Focus on starting the swim at a comfortable pace that allows you to find your rhythm and settle into the race. Avoid going all out from the beginning as this can lead to fatigue later on. While you might feel like you’re capable of going faster, by following a strong triathlon swim pace strategy, you’ll eventually probably find yourself pulling ahead of people who went all out from the first stroke. 

Woman swimming in green open water

Find Open Space

Unlike swimming in the pool, your sprint triathlon swim is a bit more crowded and chaotic. So, position yourself in the water where there’s less congestion and fewer racers around you. This will enable you to swim more freely without getting caught up in the crowd--which can be exhausting and hinder your swim pacing.
With the right swim pacing strategy, you can feel confident that you’ll manage your energy effectively, maximize your enjoyment of your race, and comfortably complete your first sprint triathlon.

If you’re ready to dial in your swimming breathing technique, join nowFORM memberships include our worry-free, 30-day return guarantee.

Already have FORM goggles, but don’t have access to our full range of features? Head to the FORM app to start a 30-day free membership trial*.


Take this 10 second quiz to find a free plan that matches your goals.

Get Yours


Take this 10 second quiz to find a free plan that matches your goals.

Get Yours

Related Posts