Training for a triathlon, especially an Olympic or half-Ironman distance, is a time-consuming endeavor. Some competitors think of balancing work, family and training as the silent but equally important fourth leg of a triathlon event. 

One way of rewarding a spouse (and kids) for their support is to plan a race around a family vacation. Door County, Wisconsin, serves both sides of the family equation well. Called "the Cape Cod of the Midwest," Door County offers an incredible variety of tourist destinations, restaurants, lodging choices and outdoor activities around which to create a memorable vacation for any family. 

For the triathlete in the family, the Door County Triathlon offers sprint and half-Ironman distances on July 20-21. Dubbed the "Can't Bluff the Bluff," the half-Ironman course features a few lung-busting hills on both the bike and run legs. 

Competitors from across the Midwest can certainly prepare for the hills close to home. The swim leg, held in Horseshoe Bay in Lake Michigan, may offer a new set of challenges, however. 

Many triathletes spend hundreds of hours training in indoor YMCA pools. But when it comes to racing season, the majority of the swim legs at event take place in inland lakes. Swimming in large bodies of water, like Lake Michigan, can be far different experience. 

"Barely half of our sprint distance participants will have done any open water swimming. Even those triathletes with open water training may not have experienced big waters," said Sean Ryan, director of the Door County Triathlon. 

Read the entirety of Lou Dzierzak's open water swimming advice in the May 2013 print edition of Silent Sports. To order a copy and/or subscribe to the magazine, call Cathy at 888/706-4045.