The swim section is in Portishead's fabulous Open Air Pool, which is both heated and spacious. The course is 8 lengths of 33m each, totalling 264m.
WAVE START: Before race day, everyone will know which "wave" they are in (the start will be divided into waves of 25 swimmers at a time, going off about 10 minutes apart). Also, within each wave, swimmers will be starting 10 seconds apart so we will issue you with different coloured swim caps to help us count your lengths and record your time. Make sure you wear the swim cap we give you, not a different one (unless you wear your own swim cap underneath ours - that's OK).
All frontal swim strokes are allowed (British Triathlon Rules don't permit backstroke in pool swims) but you are responsible for looking where you're going and avoiding any collisions. In our previous events, most swimmers did front crawl ("freestyle") but there were plenty doing breaststroke or their own "unique" stroke. So long as you are confident you can complete the 8 lengths, we won't be worried about your style.
If you haven't done a "wave start" event before - and most first time triathletes won't have - here is how it works.
When your particular wave is called to the start, all 25 swimmers will get into the pool - 5 in each lane - at the shallow end. One swimmer in each lane will be instructed to start swimming (eg. all the swimmers in red swim caps) then 10 seconds later, the next swimmer in each lane will start (eg. those in blue swim caps) and so on. Everyone will get a short countdown - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go!
DIRECTION: Each lane will be designated as either clockwise or anticlockwise, so make sure you know which side of the lane you need to stick to.
LAST LAP WARNING: When you have done six lengths, the marshal at the shallow end will tap you with a float so you know you have just two lengths to go before you get out. You'd be surprised how easy it is to miscount when you're in the pool, so this way you don't have to worry about anything except your swimming.
SPECTATORS: There is plenty of seating in the poolside area for spectators - all family members and supporters are welcome! After 9.30, the pool will reopen for normal use so there will be no readmission after that time for spectators (athletes will be able to get back in though, and can use the changing/showers/lockers)
We strongly recommend having a practise swim at Portishead Open Air Pool, so take a look at their web site for opening times etc: Portishead Open Air Pool.
Any questions about the swim? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I'd be more than happy to answer. There are NO stupid questions, so if you aren't sure about something, get in touch.
A few notes re rules and safety...
This will all be covered in pre-race briefing and the race-info pack I'll send out to all entrants nearer the time, but here is some important info for reference:
OVERTAKING: Overtaking is allowed in the pool, but you must be careful and avoid doing anything that might impede another swimmer. If you want to overtake, you must look to see that the middle of the lane is clear so that you can pull out into the middle and overtake. If someone coming the other way is already out in the middle of the lane, let them either complete their overtake or come past you before you pull out.
It's also possible to overtake at the end of the lane - if a swimmer has caught you up and is right behind you, the best thing is to stop when you reach the end of the pool and let the faster swimmer turn and kick-off first. That way you can turn, kick-off and follow them. This benefits the faster swimmer (who is able to go full speed instead of being stuck behind the slower one) and also the slower swimmer (because following a swimmer uses less energy thanks to them breaking the surface tension in the water - you can actually "slipstream" behind them and may go faster as a result).
GETTING OUT: You must get out of the pool at the shallow end after completing eight lengths. To avoid danger to the marshals who are counting lengths at the pool end, you must walk along the end of the pool and can only start to jog - if you want to - when you turn the corner and are at the side of the pool. There is a handrail here if you feel wobbly after the swim, so use it if you need to. The exit to the transition area is at the deep end, under the diving boards, so walk/jog down the side of the pool and out of the door at the end to get ready for the cycling.