OPEN WATER SWIMMING
by B.E.S.T. Master Coach Tom Manzi
As a coach I see many athletes feeling nervous about open water swimming, especially that in a race the swim is in the beginning. When race day finally arrives and the gun goes off, your worst fears are realized: there is a massive churning and frothing of water as the battle for position at the first buoy begins. The water is cold and there’s a heavy chop. “How do I get through this?”
Open water swimming is never boring. Whether you are an accomplished swimmer or a first-timer, there is never an easy open water swim. The variables are always changing. Water temperature, air temperature, current, river speed, wind, waves, and perhaps two-hundred bodies starting at the same time and trying to get to the same end point make for an interesting, if not frightening, experience. Here are a few swim pointers that may help to alleviate some of your race-morning anxieties.
Proper stroke technique can only help. The more efficient you are in the water, the less energy you use to get to a certain point at the same rate of perceived effort. Find a coach or a master’s swim program to correct your swim technique. It is also good to get videotaped to see yourself swim and thus get a visual image of what you are doing. The main principles we stress for the freestyle stroke are:
If new to swimming it’s a good idea to join a master’s swim program or have a swim coach work with you .
Know the Body of Water the Race will be held
Triathlon swims can be in very calm lakes, rivers or bays with current, or in the ocean with large waves. A few weeks before your race get into open water to get used to the elements, such as dark water, where you can’t see a lane line, swim into, and with a current, if race is in ocean get practice diving under waves to get past them and to get to first buoy. Practice sighting while doing open water practice, using a landmark to sight on. Be sure to swim in open water with a partner, never alone, and hopefully have a partner who is familiar with open water skills.
If you have any question contact me (contact info below). I conduct open water swim clinics in Arizona and in the ocean at the Jersey Shore. I also organize 2 weekly, sunrise, ocean practice swims – June through September in Bay Head, NJ where we get 30 to 60 athletes participating.
Get out there and enjoy the open water, but be safe!!
B.E.S.T. Master Coach