Tips on transition


This is the part of the race where time can be saved or lost.  Believe me as a parent and coach I have seen on many occasions where people gain or lose time during transition and I can’t understand why anyone would not want to nail transitions.

As a parent, the biggest help you can give to your young athlete is to help them get set up in transition, take away the stress, and allow them to perform on the hard bits of swimming, cycling and running.

Transition areas for junior races are generally well ordered as in the picture below, however some events may not be.

Here are some key tips…

  1. Practice setting up your transition kit at home and putting your shoes, number belt etc on. Do it till its second nature.
  2. Planning – For an event: Understand the distances and routes.Often these are available online before hand so download, or get there early to photograph the maps and then walk around the course.  Some people write these distances on the backs of their hands, e.g. S8, R4   (swim 8 lengths, Run 4 laps) – use something that works for you; this avoids the panic of “what am I doing!”  go through any pre-race information with your athlete.
  3. When at the event, understand the entry and exit points in transition. Look at where you will exit the pool, and where you then enter transition.
  4. In the transition area: Choose a spot that’s easy to find. Ends of the lines are easy to find, but go quick (so get there early), otherwise look for a fixed physical marker / landmarks which are in line/close (e.g. a bin, signpost….).  You are not allowed to make your own so don’t go painting the floor, inserting flags, dusting talc in your area etc.  You will probably get away with a distinctive t shirt or drink bottle on the chair at Leeds.
  5. Be neat and tidy in transition – you will have limited space and a marshal will remove items which are strewn around.
  6. Set up your area. Towel down on the ground, trainers with elastic laces, which have been talc’d, maybe Vaseline on the back of the heel, number pinned to number belt laid on the towel.  Something like ….

(set this up as YOU want and have practiced at home – there is no right or wrong answer here…)


  1. Do a physical walk through from the point of exit of pool to your spot and then walk the route from your spot to transition out.Then do it at a jogging pace. Don’t feel daft doing this, loads of people will be doing the same.
  2. You will probably have a start time, get there early to avoid any start line stresses.   For an Aquathlon, as you are waiting in line on the poolside, visualise what you are going to do, how you will get out, which way you will turn as you get out of the water and then where you go.

Richard Branford (Head Swim Coach WJTC)