Do you remember the old saying "I went to a boxing match, and a hockey game broke out'?
Well, I'm starting to think it is time to update it to "I went to a boxing match, and a triathlon broke out!'.
Case in point, my last 'race'. It was a wave start. There were only 200 individuals in the wave. And, we had to navigate through a fairly small pier at the start of the race before we would find open water. So, as triathletes, we are anticipating that there will be some 'pushing and shoving' at the start.
What surprised me though, was that about 250 meters into the race I had my goggles knocked off my face, by a female swimmer with a Ironman France swim cap on. There was really just the two of us around in open water as the wave had thinned out. After giving said swimmer 'a penetrating death stare', I put the goggles back on to my face (straps were under the cap thankfully), and resumed the race.
50 meters later, I had my goggles knocked off again by a second swimmer sporting an Ironman Couer d'Alene swim cap. Now, I'm at 300 meters, and about to turn at a buoy in 50 meters. I really didn't need to have my goggles knocked off my face again at this point. But, what really irked me again, was that I was in open water, with no one around me, AND, the swimmer in this case just kept swimming by me, and was staring at me through his TRI goggles, and spit water at me as he breathed. TWICE.
Suddenly, I was in a boxing match. My first reaction was to quickly reset my goggles, and since I was swimming easy, increase my cadence, and share with said swimmer a swift left punch across the goggles. I had him in my sights, I had the cadence, and the speed. And, then I stopped myself.
I am only a newbie triathlete. But, I suspect I've learned something in my short time. Triathletes are learning boxing moves for the mass swim start. In each of the two cases above, there was initial contact with me. Brushing my toes with their fingers. An elbow to my hip. And then the 'I am going to swim over you move' to the face and goggles.
Why is this acceptable in triathlon swims? Why not go into the transition area and as you are exiting T1 if they are in your way just knock someones helmet off their head -- afterall, it is congested in T1. Why not pass a slower runner as you are both 'bringing it home' and since they are holding your line just roundhouse them and knock their sunglasses off their face.
Let's face it people. You've probably been roughed up in a swim start. When I played hockey, I got a glove in my face now and then from a goon. But, that didn't mean I became a goon. In hockey, you'll get a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. It seems in triathlon, all you get is ahead on the swim.
Don't be a triathlon swim goon. It's a black eye on our beloved sport.
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