With the thought of open water swimming becoming more of a reality as the season approaches, it’s time make sure your skills are on-point. A small mistake (such as veering in the wrong direction) can be costly on race day so it’s important to brush up and get back into the right mindset – remembering all those things you’ve put aside while swimming lengths in the pool over the winter. Mentally it is also a great stepping stone from your comfortable setting of a swimming pool to a more daunting environment of the first open water session of the year.
Open Water Swim Prep - What Stroke?
1. Choose a stroke that you are most comfortable with. Front crawl is the ‘go to’ for most triathletes and open water swimmers as it is the most energy efficient and the quickest. Breaststroke is allowed in all triathlons and open water swims, but avoid backstroke as for safety reason many events do not allow it.
2. If you only have one comfortable stroke, try to get competent in another e.g. breaststroke, in case something happens in the swim, but you can continue e.g. injury, swallow water etc. It uses less energy and allows for recovery time.
3. Be competent in your stroke for your race distance. Minimum races swims are usually 400m (16x25m in the pool) so if you can have that as a minimum distance when you train. If you are swimming from scratch, work up to it and then make sure you have practiced that stroke for the distance at least once.
4. Practice your stroke while swimming in a wetsuit or with our Neoprene Buoyancy Shorts. These are perfect to wear in the pool to add buoyancy to the hips. They also help keep you aligned and horizontal to the water surface. This will get you in a similar swimming style to when in a wetsuit. Check out our wetsuit range to find your Perfect Wetsuit
In the Pool - Open Water Swim Techniques
Who said you couldn’t practice your open water swimming in the pool? Here’s our top tips:
Entering the water
Practice your start from treading water. There’s no wall to kick off or dive from in open water. Get used to treading water as you could be doing it for a couple of mins at the start of your race.
There are no lane ropes in the open water, you need to practice looking ahead to find a marker in the distance to follow.
Using our Buoyancy Shorts will again help with keeping your legs high and not slowing your swim down when sighting.
Perfect looking up every few strokes, that way you won’t disrupt your rhythm.
Breathing both sides
If you are able to breathe both sides in your stroke this will really benefit you, both in terms of sighting and if there is a tide out in the sea. Focus on the technique by using our pull buoy to concentrate on your arm pulls and which way to breathe each stroke.
Allow your head and spine to rotate with your shoulders, inhale quickly, then turn your face back into the water with your shoulders each time.
A rush of swimmers in close proximity can come as a bit of a shock in your first open water swim. Try to get a group for swimmers together to practice and also to show off your Zone3 swim gear.
All of our swim products will help with the techniques above for general race prep and on the big day. Good luck!