Open Water Swimming Tips


Even the most experienced swimmers can benefit from taking some time early on in the season to get used to swimming in open water.  Many triathletes spend months and months indoors swimming in a pool.  Swimming in open water can be very different and poses an entirely different set of obstacles.  Here are some things you need to consider to best prepare yourself for the switch from pool swimming to open water swimming:

  • What to wear:
    • In a pool, you likely wear a simple swim suit. In open water, you may wish to use a tri kit because that is what you will be racing in.
    • Will you wear a wetsuit? What is your “threshold” for cold water?
    • We wear goggles in the pool – are these the same goggles you will be wearing in open water and during your races?
  • Water conditions:
    • Is there a current? How will you navigate that?
    • Use shorter, faster strokes in rougher water
    • Get used to cold water before your race
  • Warming up before the race – are you able to get in?
  • The Start
    • Position yourself correctly – front or back? Left or right?
    • Dryland running start vs. in-water start
  • The Finish
    • How far should you swim?
    • Should you dolphin dive?
    • Lift your legs when you run out of the water
  • Know the Course
    • Make sure you review the course before the race
    • Count buoys to know when you need to turn
    • Will you be swimming into the sunshine at some point?
    • Lift your head to barely get the eyes out of the water to sight
  • Creating Your Space
    • Protect the head and chest
    • Place arms out wide
  • Rounding the Buoys
    • Position the arms differently to help change direction
    • More crowded on the inside closest to the buoys
  • Breathing to Both Sides – straightens the stroke, gives you an option if someone is swimming close to you on one side
  • Drafting
    • Position yourself along the hip of the faster swimmer
    • Get on the feet of a faster swimmer

Please join Tri Right Coaching for 2 free open water swim clinics at Centennial Beach in Naperville!  These will be held @ 6pm on Wed, 5/31 and Tue, 6/6.  There is no charge for the clinic, but there is a $3 fee to enter the beach.  We will meet in the deep end near the diving boards.

Need some help with your open water swimming or your triathlon training?  Contact me, I’m happy to point you in the right direction!

Coach MJ


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