Chicago Triathlon – Swim Details

Below are some images and videos of the Chicago Triathlon that I found online. I’ve listed notes under each one to help “deconstruct” the swim part of the event.


8/14/14 UPDATE – Below is the PDF document referenced in my email today:

Chicago Triathlon Swim Checklist (click on this link to review and download!)


Swim start and water entry point

ChiTri_swim start_olympic

The above photo shows how you will enter the water for both the Sprint and Olympic distance triathlon. Things to note:

– You will step into the lake from this platform and join the group waiting in the water.

– The lake is 8 – 10 feet deep here and you cannot touch the bottom.

– Depending upon how big the group is and when you get in, you may end up waiting in the water for several minutes!

– This is a swim wave of Olympic distance triathletes. They are in the water facing SOUTH getting ready for the start signal.

– The earlier Sprint waves will enter the lake the same way, but from a point further south of here. They will swim NORTH the entire time.

– Swimmers tend to gather closer to the front and to the west edge at the start. These are “choke points” where there is usually a lot of swimmer congestion!

– You can see previous waves of swimmers heading north on the other side of the orange buoys.

Swim route looking south

ChiTri_swim route

The above photo and videos show the swim route for the Sprint distance. Things to note:

– This is a point-to-point NORTHBOUND swim that begins south of the area where the Olympic swimmers will enter the water.

– In the photo, notice that there are swimmers from several waves together at this spot.

– In the photo, you can see distressed and fatigued swimmers clinging to the wall or to the rowboats on the other side of the swim area. These are “choke points” – AVOID THESE AREAS!

– In the videos, you can see the next wave of Sprint swimmers entering the water to the south.

Swim route looking north

ChiTri_swim route2

The above photo and video shows the swim route for the Olympic distance. Things to note:

– Swimmers first start heading SOUTH and then turn north at the orange buoys.

– Olympic distance swimmers will NOT be near the wall during the northbound part of the swim.

– The turn buoy is another major “choke point” to navigate.

– In the video, you can see the previous waves of swimmers going north.

Swim exit point

ChiTri_swim finish

The above photo shows how you will exit the water. Things to note:

– This is basically a partially submerged set of bleacher stairs that you swim up to and climb out.

– There will be volunteers here to help you out of the water.

– This is another “choke point” so watch your step getting out and don’t “bark” your shin on any of the steps!

Bonus Section – Drafting other swimmers!

The above video clip shows one swimmer drafting another one in the water. Things to note:

– The “drafter” is NOT directly behind the “draftee.” He is just off to the left side and slightly behind the swimmer. Ideally, he would be a bit further behind to catch the full strength of the “bow wave” that the front swimmer is creating.

– The swimmer behind and to the right is also benefiting from the front swimmer’s swim wake – but to a lesser degree.