Open Water Swimming Tip: Swim Straight Like the Pros

In open water swimming one of the many challenges is to swim straight and keep the distance you swim to a minimum.

You can beat much better swimmers than you by being clever and efficient with your open water swimming. If you snake through the swim and are constantly having to correct course, these tips may help you.

swimming straight in open water tips

1) Bi-lateral breathing

Most swimmers have a stronger side and that naturally leads to imbalances in the stroke. If you breathe to one side only it increases the likelihood of swimming off to one side (unless you sight regularly). Breathe to both sides to swim straighter. You can use markers to sight to both the left and right, and reduce your reliance on sighting to the front.

2) Practice in the open water

This is where the true test occurs, and the more you practice, the better you will become at open water swimming and in particular straight swimming.

3) Swim blind

When in the pool, close your eyes and see how straight you can swim. Try and get a feel for which arm or element of your stroke might be leading you astray. Practice and see how far you can get with your eyes closed and without hitting the lane ropes. Swim safely though.

4) Keep your stroke long and smooth

This will reduce any ‘jerking’ that may cause you to swim off course. The more strokes you take, the more likely your imbalances will reveal themselves.

5) Practice your sighting

The goal is to sight as little as possible, while keeping as straight as possible. Make your sighting technique as efficient as possible, and in rhythm with your stroke to reduce the energy it takes. Practice regularly in training. When you are sighting, look for tall, obvious landmarks that stick out bit jut the buoys which can be hard to spot. Pre-race, scout the course and see what landmarks are in line with the buoys. Work on spotting them rather than searching long and hard for the smaller buoys.

Open water swimming can be a tough skill to master, but there are many quick and easy tips to help you master it. Swimming straight in the open water is key, as it ensures you swim fewer metres and helps conserve your energy for the bike and run legs.

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2 comments

  1. photographydream

    Straight swimming, had it down for the beginning of the season and now the right arm has started crossing in front of the body again. I usually end up further to the right than I should. It’s hard to pull a weaker arm straight through but read this interview with Norman Stadler today and he described swimming as comparable to climbing a ladder. That made sense.

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