5 Tips for FASTER Open Water Swimming

5 Tips for FASTER Open Water Swimming

With COVID-19 and all the restrictions at your local pools, many swimmers have opted into Open Water Swimming. Open Water Swimming is a COMPLETELY different animal than your regular pool swim, as you don’t have a defined space where the water resides. This means the water will either help or hurt you.

In today’s blog, I plan on giving you 5 tips to help you improve your Open Water Swimming — so if and when you decide to get back into the pool – you’ve gotten FASTER!

Let’s get started!

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One of the first things you should understand is that as a pool swimmer, you actually use the markers on the pool more than you think. While it’s easier to say swimmers really only use the Backstroke flags during Backstroke, you actually pay more attention to the lines on the bottom of the pool, the 15m marks, the change in color of the lane line buoys, and the flags more than you think.

It’s those markers that help you as a pool swimmer avoid this:

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One of the easiest ways to understand how much you utilize those markers at the pool, is to go to a pool with different or less markers than the ones you normally use. Very quickly, you’ll realize how much you rely on those markers for your indicators you’re getting close to the wall!

5 Open Water Swimming Tips:

Tip #1: Learn how to Sight Breathe

While Open Water Swimming, you don’t have any markers so you have to learn how to Sight Breath. Sight Breathing is literally what it sounds like, you breathe looking forward so you can keep track of where you are going — instead of breathing to the side like you do regularly in Freestyle.

With Sight Breathing, you don’t have to do every breath in this fashion – unless you want to. But you do need to mix in Sight Breathing to make sure you are swimming in the direction you planned on.

When you add in a current from the Open Water, it’s very easy to get off track and assume you’re swimming straight, but in reality you’re actually being pushed down stream. Sight Breathing helps you keep track of your direction and make sure you’re swimming towards your goal!

Tip #2 Learn to Count Your Strokes

Just like having no markers, you don’t have any defined distances to complete in the Open Water. You can make Open Water Swimming more interesting by knowing your stroke counts per lap in your regular pool, so you can multiply it by however many laps you want to do to create ‘mini sets’ for the Open Water.

For example, say you take 12 strokes of Freestyle per 25 yards. In the Open Water, you could then do 8×50’s or 8×24 strokes on :20 seconds rest to mimic a set you’d do in the pool!

Tip #3 Get a Tempo Trainer

Tempo Trainers are great tools to help you have a virtual coach around without actually having a real one. A Tempo Trainer will keep you honest on your tempo and will help you create sets based off your tempo and races your training for.

For example (using the same stroke counts as above), you could do 8×25’s or 8×12 strokes with a tt at 90bpm, which is fast with :20 seconds rest. Followed by, 4×100’s or 4×48’s with a tt at 70bpm on :30 seconds rest.

Having the Tempo Trainer allows you to get more creative with your sets and also have an accountability buddy with you too. If you’re interested in snagging a tempo trainer, we’d actually partnered with Finis. Use Promo Code: SwimLikeA.Fish at checkout to receive 25% OFF your new Tempo Trainer!

Tip #4 Get a Sighter

Since Open Water Swimming is so much more variable and has a lot more uncontrollable factors, make sure you don’t go into Open Water Swimming without someone who can watch you. Many times this means having a Boat, Kayak, or Stand-Up Paddleboard companion at your disposable.

While this may take more planning, it’s for your safety and to make sure others using the Open Water see you swimming as well. There are plenty of horror stories of accidents from Open Water Swimming, but I’ll just leave it at that.

Tip #5 Be Prepared

Make sure that you know the conditions of the body of water you’re about to swim in. This includes water temperature, whether it’s salt water or fresh water, current conditions, and popularity.

Depending on how long you plan on swimming, lots of times Open Water Swimming is HARDER than pool swimming because of the water’s current – you want to make sure you have the ability to hydrate yourself and/or eat something during your swim. Do not go into the Open Water (especially, salt) without a water bottle.

Also, it’s important to know whether or not you may need a wet suit for your swim depending on the temperature too.

One of the WORLD’S BEST Open Water Swimmers, Fran Crippen lost his life swimming during a 10K Open Water Race in the UAE a few years ago. The water temperatures were too high (upper 80’s) and many swimmers were treated with heat exhaustion after the race! So please make sure you’re safe with your choices and swim duration time as well! My condolences still go out to the Crippen family about this as well. His sisters are some of my closest friends!

Overall, Open Water Swimming takes more time to prepare for than swimming in a pool – so make sure you plan well ahead of time. If you do plan well and for your safety, you will enjoy the experience very much! Some of the coolest places in the world, you can swim in!

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Abbie Fish

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