3 Tips for Open Water Swimming

3 Tips for Open Water Swimming

For those who have not come from a swim background, the open water swim portion of the triathlon can be extremely daunting. Remember that safety should always be your foremost concern while swimming, it’s always good to do an open water swim with a friend or a group.

Triathlon Starts. The triathlon starts are typically done in waves of smaller more manageable groups of athletes, unlike the Ironman triathlon which is a mass swim start. This is where it is good to swim at least occasssionally as a group. As you practice your open water swimming, line up on the beach as you would for a race. Run into the water tightly grouped together to create a race environment. Jockey for position and give each other a few pushes and shoves to get used to the feeling of what it will be like at the swim start. If your race starts in the water, you may also want to try a few swim starts this way.

Sighting. Sighting is a learned skill and one that you should practice everytime you get into the open water. You can swim so far off course if you do not get into an established rhythm of looking up to see where you are going. Having a stroke that is fairly equal on both sides will help you swim a straighter line. When first starting out, you should look up every 5-10 strokes to make sure you are heading in the right direction.

Swimming around the buoys. Navigating a buoy can be a challenging part of the triathlon swim. The most efficient way to clear the buoy is to head directly toward it and aim for an inside line rather than an outside line(that being said, as long as you are confident getting right in the mix, as it can be a rougher place to be) If you can hold this inside line, you will be a shorter distance to the next buoy. You can also swim toward the far outside, which will allow you a direct line to the buoy as well, albeit a bit further. You may be able to swim faster here since there is less jockeying going on.

Swim exits. As you swim toward shore kick it in some. If you are wearing a wetsuit and not kicking too much, this is a good time to get a bit of a kick going and turn up the volume a bit. Remember as you get closer to the shore, make sure you swim in until you can grab the sand below you. It is much easier to get up and run out of shallow water than if you are still hip deep in it. If you are in an Ocean swim, it’s also important to look over your shoulder a few times as you are coming in so you do not get taken out by a wave. You can also use the waves to your advantage and body surf in on one.