Can You Rest During A Triathlon Swim? Why It May Save Your Life!

This one is especially for you beginners. I know you are very much into it, and damn this energy is all you need to initiate this race. But know that this energy is exhaustible. You might get overwhelmed with your zestful spirit and think you don’t need a pause. Therefore, I have come up with something you should know.

Can athletes rest during triathlon swim leg? A triathlete can stop in the mid of a swim leg and hold onto a kayak, buoy, dock, or any stationary object they find as they swim without getting penalized however it is not allowed to use the floating device to get forward assistance, or else they shall be disqualified. Furthermore, while resting in the swim leg is allowed, the athlete should make it out of the water before the swim cut-off time set by the organizers.

For more on triathlon cut-off times, check out our post: What Are Triathlon Races Cutoff Time? What’s a Good Finish Time!

When you feel you are out of breath, resting during the swim may be a needed moment. Relax, breathe, and take a rest instead of making yourself lethargic with continuous efforts. Safety should always be your prime concern. Keep the mantra on your mind, ONE BODY-MANY RACES.

In some cases, triathletes even opt for DNF and DNS. It is when they realize they might make things worst. . Here’s what we have gathered for you to decide when to DNF/DNS a race. What Do DNF, DNS, Lap, And Lapped Mean In Triathlon?

As you read further, you will get answers to other questions you might have about the swim leg.

Do People Drown During Triathlons?

In triathlon, the death rate is one in every 76,000 triathletes. Several recent research shows that more than 72% of death occurs during the swim leg. Medical events such as cardiac arrest are common, followed by drowning. 

Surprisingly, one of the reasons for more deaths occurring in the swim leg is that triathletes get too excited with all the adrenaline rushing they don’t realize the need to take it easy and opt to rest during the swim leg. Consequently, the body becomes exhausted, and the chances to remain in a conscious state lessens. For more on this, check out our post Can You Forget How to Swim? What To Do & Are Kids Natural Swimmers!

At this point, the triathlete is most likely to drown. This is where the swim leg is considered the most deadly leg of the triathlon.

Rest during the swim becomes needful with greater swim distance. Triathlon organizers keep safety to the utmost, and this makes your experience safe yet enjoyable. Medical and the training staff are on guard for assistance as soon as you raise your hand for help. Find out Why Is the Swim so Short in Triathlon? How To Deal With It!

Several other reasons are listed in a research done by Minneapolis Heart Institute cardiologist Kevin Harris on the dangers of the swimming leg. One of the suggested reasons is the inability to rest in the water the same way one could in a marathon or bike races.(source)

Keep in mind that every body of water is different—educate yourself on water currents and surf conditions, if applicable. 

Source (IM)

Can You Wear a Life Jacket During a Triathlon?

Unfortunately, any kind of life vest is illegal in triathlon. However, despite being less buoyant than life jackets, wetsuits can keep the athlete afloat by giving 2 to 3 pounds of buoyancy for each millimeter of thickness. (Source)

However, the triathlon-sanctioned bodies will never let you feel bereft of athleticism if you are associated with any kind of medical condition. You will need to sign a waiver to get life vests or any kind of special accommodation for your condition. Such triathletes are facilitated with complete insurance and even a designated partner to ensure safety.

It’s better, you should know what kind of triathlon gear you are allowed to take to the event. Many triathlon event organizers have now made life vests legal due to the dangers of open water swim. But still, it all depends upon the weather condition and event organizers. So do your homework, before you show up at the event.

Can I Use a Snorkel in A Triathlon?

Snorkels use is banned according to British Triathlon rules, whereas USA triathlon sanction bodies have made snorkel a legal swimming aid. (Source)

Snorkels are used to breathe underwater, bringing ease to those who might drown due to shortness of breath. Unfortunately, it becomes dangerous for those who might drown even after putting on snorkels.

One reason snorkels are usually banned is because it would take more time for lifeguards to realize if the swimmer is drowning. source

Can You Swim Butterfly, Backstroke, or Breaststroke in A Triathlon?

In a triathlon, one can use any of the swim strokes. However, each of these strokes is used specifically for a purpose. This makes your swimming less challenging, and you can cover more distance effortlessly through them.

Technically speaking, get yourself enough of freestyle stroke training before practicing other strokes. Breaststroke is considered to be the second-best on the line. Speed isn’t always the only priority, so try to make the swim leg challenging yet exciting with these strokes.

For more on this, check out our post “Can You Breaststroke In a Wetsuit? Why You Shouldn’t Anyways !

This video will walk you through each of these strokes and when to use them.

Can You Use a Buoy in A Triathlon?

Triathletes are not allowed to use any device that helps them move forward which also includes the use of Buoys. Having said that, the ultimate use of a pull buoy for triathletes is to aid in training to achieve perfect body posture while swimming. The lower body part is kept immobilized by the use of a pull buoy. This facilitates your hand stroke rate and makes your strokes better, thus making you faster and compose.

Should Pull Buoy Be Your Constant Support?

I won’t let you leave with the impression that a pull buoy is an answer to all of your sinking problems. Don’t rely on that pull buoy completely. As soon as you get yourself in a perfect body posture and get rid of sinking legs, make yourself flexible enough to ditch a pull buoy.

The reason being this progressive change of switching from pull buoy to no pull buoy will bring a lot of hold on your swimming strokes while keeping your legs steady.

Generally, the pull buoy is a triathlete’s crutch. But when used properly, it can be a critical tool for gaining power in the water.


Pull buoy is just the essential training tool and not constant go-to equipment.


An extreme triathlete who have competed in dozens of triathlons including IronMans and Extreme triathlons.

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