A triathlon cold water swim for 2.4-miles is one of the biggest concerns for many triathletes.

There are ways to prepare for it in order to make the swim far less difficult and less of a concern.

I was in town for the CDA 2008 Ironman and a cold swim for the race was one of the biggest concerns I heard when I went down to the swim area where many of the entrants were getting in some last minute swimming.

Over and over again I heard them talk about how cold the water was and I could tell that it was a major concern for many of them.

A triathlon cold water swim can be pretty unnerving for many triathletes and especially if they are new to open water swimming as many new triathletes are.

In this particular year there had been a lot of rain in that part of Idaho and often stormy weather will cause a thermal inversion in lakes and it appears that was the case this year.

triathlon cold water swim

IM Couer d'Alene swim start

The same thing happened in Penticton back in the 1980’s in a few of their earlier races and the water was really cold.

The very same thing happened with the running of the inaugural Ironman Calgary 70.3 in August 2009. Because Ghost Lake(the swim venue)is fed from mountain run-off, all people could talk about was how cold the water was going to be.

I could sympathize with them and completely understood their concerns because cold water was one thing I feared most when it came to the Ironman swim.

That was what prompted me to look into ways of overcoming the cold when it came to a triathlon cold water swim.


It was actually the owner of a local vitamin store who educated me on the benefits of pantothenic acid. He told me how it is often used by long distance open water swimmers to ward off the cold.

When I looked into it I discovered that swimmers who had crossed the frigid water of the English Channel had used pantothenic acid to help build a resistance to the cold.

Pantothenic acid is a non-prescription vitamin and can be purchased at most vitamin and health food stores. I used it myself in several colder Penticton Ironman races and have to say it made a noticeable difference and I never had a problem with Ironman cold water swims again.

I would take 500 mg a day for one month up to and including the day of the race. It is inexpensive and I never noticed any side effects of any kind.

If it is something you might be interested in trying, I would suggest doing your own search on it and check it out for yourself.

It’s just a simple matter to Google it and you will find lots of information on the subject.


Having the right wetsuit can really help as well.

Some of the wetsuits are getting pretty thin these days. It seems that they are being constructed more for speed than anything else.

triathlon cold water swim  -three triathlon wetsuits

Plenty of wetsuits to choose from

If cold water is an issue for you I would consider going with a wetsuit that is manufactured more for comfort than for speed.

In other words look for a suit that is thicker as far as millimeters and not the lighter, faster variety.

Proper fit is important as well.

Water will seep into any wetsuit and the idea is that the water seeps in becomes warmer from your body heat and provides a buffer against the cold.

If the wetsuit is too loose fitting the water will keep circulating and will not warm up.


One of the best ways to fight cold water is to improve your swim stroke.

The more compact, smooth, and energy-saving a swim stroke is, the less energy will be used to move through the water.

triathlon cold water swim   -woman triathlete swim training

It only makes sense that a swimmer will retain more body heat if their swim stroke is as effortless as possible.

If you are just beginning your triathlon career, TOTAL IMMERSION is the perfect system to incorporate into your swim training as your career develops.

If you are completely new to swimming, then you have the advantage of developing a great stroke from the very beginning without having to break bad swimming habits. This is turn will help negate the effects of cold water.

Total Immersion is perhaps one of the best swim techniques available for triathletes trying to get the most out of their swimming.



TOTAL IMMERSION is offering all IronStruck visitors a 10% discount on Books, DVD’s, and all other Total Immersion teaching tools.

Simply click on TOTAL IMMERSION go to their store page. Use the Coupon Code “ironstruck” (all small case letters) into the shopping cart coupon box and you will automatically receive your 10% discount!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *