14 Swim Training Tips For Open Water Triathlon

The point of all your swimming drills and practising in the open water was to get ready for competing. The goal you should be striving for is to make sure that you make the most of all the training and preparation you have done by staying calm and collected on race day to make sure you are doing your best.

Performing well in practice is one thing, but if you can’t hold up in real competition, then all of your preparation was pointless. Therefore, we will be addressing the difficulties that will come up when doing a triathlon swim in the open water during this month.

Making sure you have everything you need for a successful swim session ought to be done before you even get in the pool. It has frequently been stated that one should give themselves a significant amount of time for preparation before the commencement of the race.

Getting ready for swimming can be really stressful if there isn’t enough time and everything is rushed. Planning beforehand can save you from anxiety and agitation.

You should also have a thorough knowledge of the swim route so that you can plan out your course of action.

This simplifies travelling through the water, particularly when there are currents and turns in the route. Swim to the opening turn to ensure that you can see the warning beacons because sometimes they can be hard to make out if you’re in the water.

Most races begin with multiple divisions or “waves” to prevent clumping up during the biking segment. Observe a couple of individuals and note how they are departing. Monitor what transpires: search for tight spots, identify which swimmers possess the most suitable course and discern where the water is calm.

2. Swim starts

Swim starts can be either water or land-based. Water starts involving you floating in the water; shore starts involving you standing on the shoreline or running along the beach. Be sure to figure out which situation will be encountered and get ready in a suitable way.

You must also think about the direction and distance to the initial turning point, the force of the current, and the amount and competency of the swimmers in your heat.

Your level of proficiency in swimming should determine how you approach the race and your place at the starting line. If you are inexperienced in swimming, it is advisable to begin close to the edge or back of the pool, since you will find calmer waters faster.

Try to keep away from the leading edge of your group of swimmers as those who are quicker may be struggling to overtake you. If you’re a seasoned swimmer, having the right posture is essential for a smooth beginning.

3. Beating the traffic

No matter where you begin, it will be crowded, so it is a good plan to make a place for yourself. In a water start, most people will stay upright in the water, close to one another, while using their feet to keep afloat.

The issue with this is that when the gun goes off to signal the start of the race, everyone drops down into the water to start swimming and then you must struggle to find space among the other competitors.

The optimum strategy for dealing with traffic impediments is to remain flat in the water and rowing with wide strokes and only a gentle movement of the feet while expecting the beginning of the race. This allows you to make some room around you to set up the initial few strokes.

It is important to practice getting into the water when you are starting from the shore to be familiar with the terrain and prevent from stumbling.

You must take a quick dip before beginning to guarantee your goggles are securely and snugly in place and not letting water in. Once the seals are in position, avoid tampering with them – making more changes could lead to leakage.

The dolphin technique is beneficial in situations where running is impossible due to the water being too deep, but swimming can’t be done as the water is too shallow. Further insight is provided in the explanation below. Moving swiftly in shallow seas can be beneficial to help you avoid the impact of any approaching waves.

Making progress and carving out a place for oneself is beneficial. It is essential to do the dolphin stroke before the competition so that one is aware of how shallow the water is and when to switch over to swimming.

The dolphin technique

Dashing into the waves: when the tide gets deeper, get ready to plunge ahead with both your arms. Jump forward into the water and try to stay submerged for as long as you can. You should sync your diving with the oncoming wave while in the underwater stage. Put your hands at the bottom and then push off to set your feet in the right position for the following dive. Bend your knees and then jump forward to start the second dolphin dive. Until the water is up to your mid-thigh, continue the action. After that, it’s more effective to swim.

4. Pacing yourself

Once the competition begins, you must estimate your speed. The veteran and more proficient swimmers will push off from the start at full power to break free from the crowd, sometimes swimming as quickly as possible for over 100m before easing off into a lighter effort.

For beginning swimmers, the fast-start pacing plan wouldn’t be suitable – it is actually far superior to go slowly and concentrate on breathing and the tempo. By not pushing yourself anaerobically at the start, you will ensure that you have enough energy to complete the swim powerfully.

Once beginning, you must swim at a pace you can maintain. Triathletes usually find it difficult to gauge the speed at which they are swimming, particularly when there is no timepiece or buoy after every 25/50 meters.

It is imperative that you are aware of what you can do, which is why working with the pace clock or a watch to time yourself when swimming during your training can be beneficial when you race in open water.

If you plan to compete in a 1,500-meter open water race, a good exercise is to swim 10 to 12 times 100 meters with a 10-second pause in between each 100. Pay attention to when the task begins and ends and subtract the breaks (10-12 times in 10 seconds). Aim to swim at an even pace.

You will likely find the first five or six to be quite simple, but it will get progressively more challenging to stay on track thereafter. If you are going too quickly while swimming, you should slow down the next time you get in the pool.

Regarding the race, use the knowledge gained from your training exercises to avoid starting too quickly, only to become tired toward the end.

It is beneficial to have a good understanding of the course, as you will be aware of how far the remainder of your swim is. It can be challenging to determine how much energy to exert when it’s not a simple round-trip event. It is advisable not to speed up unless you are sure that you can continue to keep pace.

Drafting can help you conserve a lot of energy, up to as much as 25%, but this involves finding a good swimmer to stay close to at the beginning of a swim race. To do this you must look for someone who churns the water efficiently and swims with a similar speed as you. This could be difficult, however, it could really be beneficial – especially if you feel worn out after the swim.

Observing other swimmers’ techniques to identify if one side of the lane is better is useful, as well as being conscious of your environment. For further details on how to swim and draft, please refer to Section 2.

Inexperienced swimmers often have a tendency to pause to observe where they are and take a breath. By continuing to swim, even if you’re slow, you’ll save yourself a good deal of time compared to if you were to take breaks along the way.

5. Taking the turns

When you get to a turning point in the water you will have far less room to move as everyone meets at the buoy to switch paths. At this juncture, your perception of where you are in the pool compared to the other swimmers is important to your end result.

Being wedged in between the rest of the crowd is the least desirable spot.

The quickest way to go around the bend is via the interior path, but that’s everyone’s goal. As a result, you have two alternatives: you can either settle for taking a slower pace while competing for space, or you can go further around on the outside and avoid any potential hazards.

Instead of keeping up with the other riders in the pack, it might be better to move slower and take the inward route when you can clearly see it is available. Being conscious of the circumstances surrounding you will make determining the optimal strategy much smoother.

6. Overcoming the fear and building confidence

Before going into the water in the evening, here are some recommendations to assist you if you’re feeling apprehensive or need a morale boost.

  • Pinpoint your fear and challenge it head-on in a safe space. Anything to simulate your open water fears.
  • Ask a lifeguard or a coast guard about the open water you’ll be practising in. This will help if you are new to open water and are not sure what to expect.
  • Just get in and swim once you’re ready and take it slow. If you need, swim in shallow water to begin.
  • Visualize the course and remind yourself of all the skills you do know.

7. Keep your stroke tight

Do not squander the effort you put into swimming in the pool! It is not hard to happen when you are in the ocean and swimming in a closely compact swell.

Maintain your technique and you will be able to persist through the swim. Don’t forget to lower your gaze when you’re not looking around. It will help maintain your good swimming posture.

Remember to raise your arms out of the water. This will give you some extra momentum and help maintain the form of the windmill as we discussed earlier.

And, finally, don’t forget to kick. You don’t need to do a lot of kicking when you have a wetsuit on but doing so will help you to propel yourself through the water with a good rhythm.

8. Find your “Groove”

You put a lot of effort into the pool to formulate your own personal style or beat in the water. Feeling the most casual and empowered in the aquatic environment is when one is at their best.

When you’re in a body of open water, the usual safety concerns are disregarded as you will now be facing a different set of factors.

Discovering your comfort zone in the ocean is simply a case of taking it easy and being aware that everyone is in the same situation. Focus on your breathing and inhale and exhale steadily and deeply. If you take calming breaths, then all else will come naturally.

9. Overtrain in the pool

If your normal race distance is 750 meters, make sure you can swim 1,000 meters without pausing. Don’t stress over how long it’s taking, just concentrate on feeling secure in the water. Everything else will fall into place.

In racing, it is not uncommon to not swim the required length due to difficulties with orientation, usually resulting in swimming in an irregular pattern. It might be reassuring to have the knowledge that you are capable of swimming greater distances than what is required of you at the starting line from a psychological point of view.

10. Know your turns

It’s beneficial to be aware of which buoys to pivot around and which ones to use as reference points when competing in a race.

For newer triathletes, familiarize yourself with the course maps and take a look at the race route the day before the event. If possible, go to the athlete gathering along with the race director the day before the competition.

The race director will examine the entire race route and will be able to respond to any of your queries. This will assist you in staying tranquil during your initial competitions.

11. Start with small bites

Make objectives that are not hard for you to attain, which will help your trust in yourself and security in the water. It could involve paddling in the shallower areas of the lake or river before delving further in.

If you feel secure in the water, it is recommended to begin swimming a shorter distance initially, before attempting to go a mile.

12. Don’t run out of the water

If you’re NOT competing, there’s no need to rush out of the water. It is possible that you can feel dizzier when exiting a lake than in a pool as the cold water affects your ear canal in a different way than swimming in chlorinated water does.

Be patient with yourself and get out slowly. Once you are comfortable with it, you can then strive to increase your speed in exiting. In a race, propel yourself through the water until you know you’ve touched the bottom and rush to the edge of the pool as fast as possible.

13. Train with a buddy

Training with a partner lends itself to accountability and can make the process more enjoyable.

It is a good idea to swim in open water with a buddy for safety reasons. They don’t need to be in the water. Having someone on land or kayak is great. It can be beneficial to remain relaxed if you are apprehensive about swimming in natural water bodies.

14. Wait and stay on the sides

If you are anxious about starting with a large group or are not an experienced swimmer, it is recommended that you remain towards the rear or sides of the group. You will have more room and it will be less difficult to spot when you don’t have to dodge all the limbs being waved around in front of you.

Side notes

Every triathlete had to familiarize themselves with swimming in a natural environment.

And, the more you practice the easier it gets. Do not allow your worries or other competitors in a triathlon to put you off. If you encounter someone who is an accomplished open-water swimmer, make sure to inquire about their experience!

Once you become comfortable with swimming in open water, you’ll be surprised at how enjoyable it is!


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