Even though you’re an experienced swimmer, open water swimming proves to be a lot different from swimming in a pool. This holds true especially when you add in race elements, which may include choppy water, competitors jostling in position, and the absence of lanes that keep your aim. This is the very reason why triathletes, both novice and experienced, all experience nerve-wracking moments when they first hit the water.
Luckily for you, we have compiled a list of tips for open water swimming, which you can use if you’re a beginner, or if you’re about to enter a swimming competition. With this post, we aim to help you prepare for open water swimming, which may potentially make you nervous and anxious, as it’s very different from what you were used to. Now, here’s a few tips that can help you boost your confidence in the open water swimming.
Open Water Swimming Tips
It’s always better to get more open water swimming experience before your race day. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be when you race. We also recommend that you do this because frequency would go a long way. While it sounds very simple, practice really is the best thing that you can do.
If you’re lucky to have regular and easy access to open water, then we suggest that you take advantage of it. If you don’t, however, be informed as to where the open water swimming clinics are within your area. To help you practice, you may also tag along a few of your friends and go to the nearest body of water where you can all swim. Lastly, in case it’s still not obvious, you should never swim by yourself.
Getting a wetsuit
A wetsuit is something that you should invest in if you’re serious about becoming an open water swimmer. Not only will the wetsuit keep you warm, but it also can provide you with more buoyancy, which allows you to be on top of the water, thereby, making it easier for you to swim. For triathlons, wetsuits may either come full or sleeveless, which will mostly depend on the buoyancy you’re going to need. Either way, getting a wetsuit is still better than nothing. However, we do recommend that you get a full wetsuit, especially if you’re a beginner. Another tip would be using it for your practice before your race, making sure that it’s comfortable and it fits you perfectly.
Warming up for 10 to 15 minutes
It’s considered common practice to warm up before your workout session and warming up before open water swimming should be no different. It would be great if you can spend more time in the water before your actual race and have a 10 to 15 minute preparation and warm up time. Doing so allows your body to be comfortable in the water, gets your body prepared to swim, and it can help to keep your blood flowing. You may try walking in and feel the temperature of the water. It would also be of great help to you if you try to take a peak underwater and see for yourself the level of visibility. Doing all these helps you prepare before the gun goes off.
Positioning yourself appropriately
If you see yourself as a strong open water swimmer, it would be best to position yourself in front or at the center. Otherwise, go to the back and swim off the side. At the start of the race, take the time to get in and swim in the clear water. There wouldn’t be enough reason for you to battle in the chaos. It would really be fine if you can swim around 10 to 15 yards off the buoys’ side. In addition, you never need to worry about losing a couple of seconds because you need to be comfortable first. Lastly, if you see yourself as a slow swimmer, you should expect that the faster swimmers slowly creep up behind you. What you should do is to continue swimming in your own little bubble, one stroke at a time, and not minding the other swimmers.
Starting out slow
Once the gun goes off, a lot of the competitors would be taking off and starting to swim faster than they could. However, some swimmers don’t realize that it would only take at least 200 yards until they’re out of breath. So, instead of going fast and struggling to complete the race, we do recommend that you start slow and increase your speed gradually on the way. Doing so allows you to have a strong finish and come to think of it, you can have a better open water swimming experience if you’re comfortable and not at all struggling.
In the event that you need to corner buoys, it would be in your advantage to just take the widest turn that you can do. Doing so allows you to avoid the push and shove that may occur near the buoy. To add, you shouldn’t worry about making a little extra swimming when you turn. After all, your uninterrupted swimming will help your body to feel confident and good. You may also do the breaststroke around the buoy. However, just keep your head down and continue what you’re doing if you don’t need to. Regardless of your decision, always be aware that some swimmers might be doing the same thing but ahead of you. And due to the breaststroke’s nature, you might get a kick in the face if you’re not paying close attention to your surroundings.
Pausing and floating
It’s perfectly normal for beginners in the open water swimming to feel nervous and anxious. In case this happens, remember that it’s fine to feel that way. What you can do, however, is to take a pause from your swimming and then collect yourself for the time being. You may also try rolling on your back and then float for as long as you need until you’ve relaxed a bit. Doing so allows you to calm down and your heart rate to be under control. When you’re ready to swim again, begin by doing the breaststroke, keep your head down and continue swimming.
Now that we’re at the end of this article, we do hope that you have learned a lot about our recommendations when it comes to open water swimming. If ever you’re feeling nervous, remember that this feeling is completely normal and you should take some time to gather yourself before resuming to swim. Hopefully, you get to apply our tips and tricks onto your next open water swimming session.