One of the biggest shocks for many first-time triathletes is the chaotic nature of the swim. I’ve heard it described as like being in a washing machine, an MMA fight, or like being under a motorboat propeller.

All are pretty accurate.

Which is why you’ll inevitably catch a heel to the head or a fist to the back during the swim.

People are excited. They are anxious. They are nervous.

They want to move as many places up as they can as fast as they can.

This is the time when the adrenaline is at its highest and arguably confidence is at its lowest.

Every man for himself.

Fight or flight. No, fight and fight.

So a kick or two is to be expected. And it’s not because that guy has anything against you. He doesn’t even recognize you.

So don’t let it get to you.

In my very first triathlon – it was called Discovery distance I believe – and the swim was only 400m, I was surrounded by non-swimmers. They could sort of swim, but they were terrible.

I was terrible too, but could at least move forward, albeit very slowly.

So these guys were floundering and flailing in front of me and somehow I found myself on top of one.

It was totally unintentional.

I kept moving, and ended up completely running over him. I don’t think I hurt him but I probably scared him. I probably terrified him. I mean, I accidentally held him underwater for a while.

I don’t think he took it personally, and you shouldn’t either.

If you do, you’ll just end up wasting time and exertion on a non-issue and getting distracted from the task at hand: Swimming forward fast.