I recently participated in the Lake Lanier Island Sprint Triathlon … and it was awesome.

If you are not familiar with a sprint triathlon, it’s a race that consists of a quarter-mile swim, a 13-mile bike ride and then a 5k run, which is 3.10 miles. This was my first one ever. And to say I was nervous was an understatement.

We got there at 5:30 a.m., I got signed in and headed over to the transition — the designated area for the athletes to change from the swim to the bike and from the bike to the run. Here, you get into your swimwear, which includes goggles, a swim cap and your swimsuit.

But something you need to do before the race starts is get everything laid out so that you can switch to your bike quickly after the swim. This means laying out your shoes, gloves and helmet.

For me, this also included a towel, my sunglasses, knee brace and heart monitor. Now, some athletes have to change their bike shoes to running shoes when they come back in from the bike. But I wear the same shoes for both. So there was nothing to lay out for that leg of the race. I would just have to hang my bike, take off my helmet and gloves and start running.

I got everything done, put on an ankle bracelet that would track my time and headed down to the lake for the starting line. There, they lined us up two by two and started us off into the lake with a few seconds between each swimmer to create somewhat of a gap.

There were almost 400 hundred people on the beach, so it took a while for me to reach the water. My heart was pounding as I stepped up to the lake. But I was ready because I had trained hard for this. The race official gave me the go-ahead. I stepped across the mat that would signal my timing chip to start, and I headed off into Lake Lanier.

I could tell very quickly that an open-water swim was going to be much different than swimming in the pool — even though Lake Lanier was a tad bit warmer than the water at the Calhoun Aquatic Center.

I noticed that I was not as buoyant as I normally am in the pool. I’m not sure if that had to do with being in lake water or if it was the turbulence made by all the swimmers in front of me. Either way, it messed with my swimming mechanics.

Next, I found it hard to stay on course. In a pool, you have a lane with tile at the bottom that you can focus on to stay straight. In the murky lake and early morning light, I could see nothing in the water, which meant I had to pop my head up every few stokes to see where I was going. That became difficult with all the people in the way.

Y’all, it was crazy. It was like trying to swim through downtown rush hour traffic. You see, I’m a pretty good swimmer. While training I was swimming the required distance in only eight minutes. The problem was the people in front and all around me were not as good at swimming as me. As a matter of fact, more than one person within earshot called for help from the race officials. That meant they didn’t continue the race.

But the ones who did had bunched up so much that I couldn’t even stretch my body all the way out and use my normal freestyle stroke to swim because I would run into someone, or they might accidentally kick me. Within a minute into the swim, I realized I had to bag my normal stroke and change up to a shorter, slower one called the breaststroke. This allowed me to swim effectively, get around the slower people and see where I was going.

As I made my way through the water, I thought about how this situation related to real estate investing. When you are an investor swimming alone in your market, you can hit your full potential easily and do whatever works best for you. But when the market becomes crowded, you have to dial in, and adjust your tactics until the weaker investors bow out and you can make some space between you and the investors that remain.

These adjustments may include changing your marketing approach so that you focus

on only the deal styles you’re best at. Or it may mean looking at deal structures that no one else wants to play with. Regardless of your conclusion, you must adapt or you will fail.

For me, I eventually made it out of the bottleneck. I was then able to go back to my freestyle stroke and speed up my pace for the last leg of the swim. Next week, I’ll tell you about what happened during the rest of the race.

Joey and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to cashflowwithjoe.com or call 678-986-6813.

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