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Triathlon Swimming Q&A:
Wearing a Heart Rate Monitor

Q: I would like to wear my watch and heart rate monitor during the swim portion of a triathlon. How much will it slow me down?

A: Well gosh, you might as well throw on a boat anchor and drag yourself through that water! Seriously though, anything that can accumulate water is going to slow you down, particularly on what’s moving (hands and feet). Even the monitor itself slows you down because the strap accumulates water weight which is more mass you have to move. The question is how much slower you get versus the utility gained. For most people, the utility of wearing that watch and heart rate monitor exceeds any time loss. It is so important to pace the bike and run correctly, especially in longer triathlon races like Iron distance. Try and put all that stuff on in transition before the bike and you lose a lot more time than just wearing it through the swim.

So for most races, wear that watch and don’t worry about it. If the overall race distance is very short and you are biking and running at your max heart rate the whole time (don’t care what it reads), then you can get away without wearing the watch. If you do wear a watch, make sure it is underneath your wetsuit (if wetsuits are allowed). Obviously, you can only do this if you wear a full-suit (with arm sleeves). If wetsuits aren’t allowed, make sure the watch is tight but not constricting to your wrist. Also, make sure your watch is on the palm-side of your wrist. This way, it is facing towards you when you take your wetsuit off and hop on the bike.

Click here to view previous questions.


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