It may seem fashionable to say that you suck at swimming, but when I started triathlon, I really did. In my first triathlon, I finished the swim in 54 minutes. And training for the swim was a constant struggle. My paces, alone in my pool, were nearing 3 minutes per 100m.

Swimmers in a race
Swimmers in a race. Credit: marfis75 on flickr

But then I joined a swim squad. I was put in the slow lane, along with about 4-5 other guys who were mostly faster and better. But I soon realized that I could draft them. Like drafting on a bike, as long as you follow the guy in front of you, he’ll pull you along. You’ll do less work. You’ll think less. You’ll do your best to keep up with him – he’s your hare.

But if the race involves self-seeding, don’t cheat and jump ahead to a category you’re not suited to. Don’t go doing the breast-stroke in the sub-30 min group – you’ll just look like an idiot.

And if you’re no good at sighting, drafting can help here, too. Just hope the guy in front of you can keep a straight line. But if you’re really horrible, as I was, his line will likely be an upgrade to your zig-zag.

One tip, though: Don’t touch his feet or else he’ll notice you and may try to drop you.

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