The #1 drill to overcome your fear of the open water

open water swimming and treading water skills to help gain comfort

Treading water & nerves from AliiDreamin’s Flickr

Open water swimming involves a lot of different stress factors. The good news is that overcoming these difficulties is not impossible and there are just as many tricks to help you become more comfortable in the water.

Some of the difficulties of open water swimming include:

  1. No lane line
  2. Dark, murky water.
  3. Currents
  4. Waves
  5. Crowded, choppy water
  6. Competitors whose only goal is to punch you in the head

Overcoming any reluctance is partly about diving in and ripping the band aid off. With time and persistence comes comfort. However, there are also many drills and tricks you can use to quickly become comfortable.

If you find swimming daunting and struggle on race day, the number one drill that can help you when swimming in the open water is Treading Water.

There are a variety of different ways to tread water – egg beater or flutter or breaststroke kick for example? Hint: flutter kick is more tiring. Check out the many videos online that will help you with the technique, for example, this one.

Start in shallow water and then proceed to the deep end. During your swim sessions do not hold on to the wall, simply tread water. Mix treading water into 50’s drill, taking a few seconds to tread water in the deep end.

Being able to tread water will help you if you ever need to stop in a race. For example:

  • to sight
  • to adjust your goggles
  • to catch your breath
  • if you need to let a pack of swimmers past
  • Starting a race from the water, being able to tread water will help conserve energy as you await the starter’s gun

Treading water also helps your swimming in multiple ways:

  1. With technique – sculling and the catch at the front of the stroke
  2. It helps strengthen forearms
  3. Forces you to engage the core

Just ask this Alsatian.

In addition to treading water, being able to turn on to your back or do breaststroke, will help in situations where you need to stop for a breather. Be sure to work the non-frontcrawl strokes in practice.

What aspect of open water swimming do you hate the most? Has being able to tread water helped you? Let us know with a short comment below.


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