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ArlingtonCommentary: Triathlon transitions can be tricky

Commentary: Triathlon transitions can be tricky

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What’s the trickiest part of competing in any type of grueling triathlon? Is it the actual swimming, biking or running, or the transitions between the first two events?

Participants might agree it’s the transitions, and the many technical aspects that are included in the changeovers. The swimming, biking and running are certainly hard, but straight forward enough.

In the official breakdown of final times listed for triathlons, transition times are included between the initial swim and bike, then the bike and run. Times are often just seconds. But if something goes wrong, they can be a minute or more, which is not good.

In preparing for competitions, triathletes include detailed transition practices during their workouts in order not to have any big time-consuming foul ups.


“You have to pay attention to every component of the transitions, because so many things can go wrong,” said Madison High School freshman Lydia Mikhin, who competes in younger-age triathlons. “Every second matters, and seconds can be lost if you aren’t properly prepared.”

When the biking portion is complete, the bikes, helmets and gloves have to be first racked in an assigned location, not just dropped on the ground so the triathletes can immediately start running. After the swim, wetsuits, goggles, swim shoes and caps must be put in certain baskets.

There are penalties for not putting the gear in the right places.

There is a proper manner and order to disrobe from a wetsuit, if worn, Mikhin explained. She said taking shortcuts can cause delays.

“It can be very hard to take those off,” she said.

Mikhin said those transition areas get chaotic and crazy sometimes.

Maybe, then it’s more entertaining to watch the transitions than the rest of the triathlon.

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