The file '/UserControls/LeftNav.ascx' does not exist.
About Well-Fit > News & Events > Recent Articles > Open Water Swimming Tips
Triathlon Open Water Swimming Tips
Coach Noelle Wilhite
Open water swimming is
often the most intimidating aspect of triathlon for both beginner and
experienced athletes. There are several things you can do prior to your
race, however, that will help calm your nerves, increase your
confidence and give you an edge on your competition. Practice,
practice, practice: When it comes to open water swimming,
nothing beats experience. Logging yardage in the pool is necessary to
increase fitness and improve technique, but it will not optimally
develop your open water skills. You will discover that swimming
continuously in choppy, colder, currents with no walls, lane lines,
backstroke flags or black lines on the bottom is a whole new experience.
The more you train in open water, the more comfortable you will become
with the different conditions. For safety reasons, it’s always a good
idea to train with a buddy in open water. Ideally, try to get in at
least one open water swim every 2 weeks.
Drafting: Although not
allowed in the bike leg of a triathlon, drafting is legal and very
encouraged in the swim portion of a triathlon. When possible, always
draft! Drafting can improve your swim split and reduce your energy
expenditure. The optimal drafting position is slightly to the side
between the hips and feet of the leading athlete. The closer you are to
the leading athlete without making contact the better. Many athletes
tuck in directly behind the leading athlete, and this does reduce chop
making for a smoother swim. However, sitting slightly to the side
between the hips and feet will position you to essentially surf his or
her bow wave or wake.
Sighting: Very often, it is not
the fastest swimmer but the smartest swimmer who comes away with the
fastest swim split. Effective sighting every 6-10 strokes will help you
keep an eye on other athletes and keep you on course. Go to the beach
before the race begins and familiarize yourself with the course. Select
fixed objects (tree line, house) on the shore that are in line with the
race course to look up to while swimming. Often the course marking
buoys drift or are obscured by waves, other athletes or glare. The
fixed objects will keep you on course and avoiding unnecessary yardage.
There are several sighting methods, but I find it easiest to lift my
head and look forward just before a breathing stroke. After looking
forward, I immediately turn my head to the side for a breath, then drop
my face down to resume a natural stroke rhythm.
Goggles: When swimming
in open water, this is one piece of equipment that you really want to
perform. Keep in mind, the pair you use for open water swimming may not
be the same pair you prefer in the pool. Make sure they have a
rubberized or soft lens seal (you don’t want a bump in the face to turn
into a cheek laceration!), good peripheral vision, secure adjustable
head straps, mirrored or tinted lenses to reflect the glare of the sun,
and are treated with an anti-fog solution. As always, remember to test
your equipment in training prior to race day! Bonus tip: Wear your
goggles under your swim cap to keep the head straps in
Relax & Have Fun: Take a few deep breaths and remember,
you are here because you signed up for this experience. This is fun!
Everyone gets pre-race jitters, but don’t let it take away from your
race-day experience. Maintaining a positive attitude will help you calm
your mind and physically calm your body. Being relaxed will not only
allow you have more fun but will also improve performance.