As you prepare to take on THE ROC, we’ve asked 4x World Champion Tim Don for tips on how to approach swim training and race day. Not only is Tim a World Record Holding athlete, but he has been a Zone3 ambassador for many years and supported our journey to becoming one of the most trusted triathlon brands. Whether you’re a seasoned ROC athlete or new to the race, it’s worth familiarising yourself with these tips and building them into your training plan and race routine.

Before your training swim small things will make it a much more enjoyable experience. Anti-chafing balm on your neck and under your arms will really help if you are wearing a race suit underneath, especially if you are swimming in the sea. Take some flip flops so you can walk to the water’s edge and put some anti-fog into your goggles as sighting is key when swimming open water. I always wear a bright swim cap and if the current and swell are big, I wear a safety buoy around my waist for extra visibility. Take a bag to put all your wet kit in after your swim, maybe have a warm hat or big parker if you know you will be cold after.


Enter the water slowly and get used to the water. If you are new to swimming in open water and feeling nervous, don’t stress about everyone around you, take your time and get comfortable in the water before you start you swim. I recommend having a session or set plan ready and I always do my open water swims on time, not distance. It is a good idea to get in and only do a small warm up, as come race day it is very rare that you can do any swim warm up at all. It is important to train to race; mimic a race day situation in training so come the big day, it is service as normal. Due to the new rolling start to most big races, it will benefit you to be used to the process of getting in and just swimming at race pace with no warmup


The best way to not come out of the swim completely spent and be ready for the bike is to swim within yourself. Every 3-4 weeks in training do a T20 or T30; this means holding your best pace for either 20 or 30 minutes. It can be boring and tough, but man if you have a few of these under your belt, your pacing will be so much better come race day. You will have that edge and the feeling of confidence that you’re swimming the correct pace to not burn too many matches.

Swimming with others of a similar ability can really heighten your training. Get in the hustle and bustle and practice swimming around people. You could take it in turns to lead the group and sit in on the feet or hip. By swimming on the feet, you can save up to 30% energy… think about that, it’s like drafting on the bike but it’s legal in the water!


In the last 100-200m of the swim increase your kick to get some blood back into your legs ready for the run to transition and the bike. While running to your bike, get your wetsuit down to your waist. When you get there, grab your wetsuit with both hands, and pull it down hard and fast. Then try and grab your ankle to force it over and off your foot (this is where the body glide will help!) Repeat this on the other leg. It’s worth practising this every time you swim in open water. Don’t just finish your training swim and get out slowly, it’s a golden time to practice getting your wetsuit off quickly and takes some stress out of race day.