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Swim Exit Issue

Hi all,

I'm having a real issue which I think is possibly fairly common. Everytime I exit the swim in a Triathlon I feel like I'm going to faint. I feel all dizzy and sick and it only goes after a few minutes. The worst thing is that I have to walk through transition ... hardly conducive of a decent transition time! Is this something I can train to get over? It's happened literally every Triathlon I've ever done (about 10) and I'm really worried that one day I will faint and not be allowed to keep going.


Does anyone have any ways of getting over this or similar war stories?


  • risris Posts: 1,002

    i've not had it happen to me, but i'm sure i've read stuff about dizziness after the swim being a result of blood being the wrong places after being in a lying down position, or the inner ear needing time to settle. 

    do you get it in training or only in races? are your races pool or open water? i'm wondering whether it is an inner ear thing, or a lack of oxygen/breathing thing...

  • Its because of cold water touching your eardrum in the swim. If you breathe dominantly to one side then you will get more water in one ear than the other causing the eardrum to shrink slightly which impares your balance. Try wearing earplugs or breathe bilaterally now and then to balance it out. You should always use earplugs when training for open water as the cold water can damage your eardrums if you are training frequently.


  • DDTTRIDDTTRI Posts: 21

    I also experienced this when I started taking part in my local lake swim training session. I have fallen backwards on top of other people trying to get out of the lake, which doesnt make you popular.

    Depending on who you ask, some say it's the cold water in the ear, some say its the cold water slowing blood flow.

    The majority of advice is try ear plugs and kicking really hard in the last 200 metres to get the blood flowing. This worked for me.

  • Me too. I almost keeled over on to my bike in my first T1. It seems to get better over time, like the run off the bike, so I think it is a blood distribution thing. The longer the run to T1 the better for me as it seems to settle things down. Last year I trained more often in open water, that may have helped. I do the kicking hard in the last few hundred meters that DDTRI mentions too.

  • zubuuzubuu Posts: 1

    Same problem for me. I've read that it's the ear thing. So I tried earplugs in a couple of races and that helped me. I train a lot in pools (without earplugs) and haven't ever experienced it when leaving. the pool. So I'm not sure it's the blood distrubution but I don't know. I just know that earplugs helped me!

  • SkettySketty Posts: 24

    And I thought it was only me that did a drunken stagger from the beach and into transition! One triathlon last year the beach seabed was stones and needed extra leg control....which I didn't have. I fell over several times in the shallow water, the race marshals seemed concerned, if it wasn't for the laughter I'm sure they would have had me in the back on the nearest ambulance.

    I'm sure its a blood thing with me, after a long pool session my legs don't want to work either.

  • I usually try to avoid swimming in cold water apart from at Challenge Wanaka where it was seriously "fresh". I've had issues with this balance thing on exiting the swim and think that its mostly down to blood redistribution. Kicking hard for the last 200m or so really does seem to help as does jog/running with small steps as you exit the swim. I've also had this exiting the pool after longer swim sessions. I've never worn ear plugs and would be interested to see a link to any research that backs up the "damage by cold water" claims. Scuba divers can't use plugs as they need to equalise pressure and I've never heard of divers getting ear damage from cold water.

  • I also experienced this on my first OW Tri to the extent that I had to sit down to take off my wet suit due to severe dizziness. I steadied my breathing (through my nose and out of my mouth) for several breaths while in T1 and felt better as I started the ride (standard practice to avoid nausea). I am convinced that is a lot to do with head movement while in the water, if you shake you head while stood up you naturally get dizzy, swimming anything from 500m to a mile is a lot of head movement and trying to coordinate yourself exiting the water will have dizzying effects. Lots of open water experience has helped me and even attempting to remove your wetsuit quickly after a training swim will help you to cope and adjust to the effects. Now that I have read the other advise I will also attempt earplugs next time

    good luck   

  • Thanks for all the help and support on this issue. As I said, it's the only thing that has really limited my enjoyment of triathlons. I'm definitely going to try earplugs during upcoming open water training sessions. I get the same dizziness during practice swims in the pool as well so I'll probably try some in the pool.


    Can anyone recommend good earplugs?

  • I had similar problems especially in cooler water. Ear plugs or putty works well. Alternatively when you exit bounce on one foot with your ear facing down on the opposite side L,ear right foot, you should drain the water in 1 or 2 hops. JUst be carefull on the move.

  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    I occaisionally have this problem when the water is particularly cold and would recommend a couple of points to help:

    1. Echo peoples points about kicking hard... this distributes blood to the legs and prepares them to do some work (after floating about pretty lazily for most of the swim)

    2. Train like you race... how often do you get out of the pool and run/walk between sets? Never? But I bet you do Bike-Run bricks... go figure. 220 has a good session in the training section which includes end switching after sets to get your body used to going from prone to vertical.

  • Hi read your blog and I kind of had the same difficulty and I hope this video could help you as it helped me God bless 

  • Tom

    try these!


    I had exactly the same issues! I also found that I acutally swam faster as I was isolated from the swim chaos and could focus on my technique a bit more!

    hope it helps

  • I get this really bad.  My first Tri swim came out the water on the left hand side of a boat slip (pretty sure it was that slip in Sketty's photo) and I kept falling to the right losing my balance and had one of the marshals check if I was OK! With me I notice it more when swimming open water, although do still get it in the pool to a degree.  

    I've read that the cold water on the ear drums can cause it so you could try some earplugs. 

    For me I think it is a combination of the cold water, turning my head to one side only over and over again (this would make me dizzy on land), being a poor swimmer plus going from horizontal to standing. 

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