Top Tips for Triathletes for Open Water Swimming

Many people are afraid to swim in open water because it is not as safe as swimming in a pool. In a pool, there are lifeguards, walls to rest on, and lane ropes that help keep the water calm. In the ocean, there are none of these things.

There are some things you can do to prevent swim-related accidents when swimming in open water. Here are some tips: – focus on your performance, not your fears – train regularly in open water – be aware of the conditions on the day of the race – follow the safety guidelines set by the race organizers

1. Get out there in the open water and Practice

Even though it may sound trite, swimming in open water is the best way to get accustomed to it. You’ll quickly learn that it’s different from swimming in a pool. Without a black line along the bottom to guide you, you’ll have to lift your head often to see where you’re going.

Open Water Swimming Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

2. Safety first

Many drowning accidents are preventable by using common sense. Don’t swim alone in open bodies of water, tell a lifeguard your plans, and don’t swim in rough seas. And don’t go out swimming without a safety buoy, they are brightly coloured, lightweight, inflatable flotation device with a waist belt that visibly floats behind a swimmer in open bodies of water, making the swimmer more visible to lifeguards, boaters and other open water vehicles.

3. Test the waters

You should warm up and get a feel for the water before swimming, especially if you’re swimming in an area where you’re not familiar with the conditions. Be sure to stay close to shore so you can get out quickly if you need to.

If you are training in a wetsuit, make sure the water temperature is not too warm, as it is easy to overheat while wearing one. If the water temperature is above 80 degrees, I recommend swimming without a wetsuit. However, if the water feels too cold, take caution.

4. Practice your sighting

INFLATABLE BUOYS – stable floating race markers – Promopark

The text is saying that you need to practice lifting your head to look for landmarks while swimming so that you can stay on track.

5. Have faith in your training and your stroke

It can be normal to feel a little bit panicked when swimming in open water since we’re used to being able to see clearly in pools. We might lift our heads too often to check our surroundings, which disrupts our stroke and pace. Not only does this use up energy, but it can also be mentally draining.

6. Follow the bubbles

While swimming in a triathlon, look for bubbles coming from the feet of the person in front of you to help you stay on course. This is especially helpful if you are not the lead swimmer. Another good reason to test the waters before the race is to see how clear the water is. If you can see other people swimming around, swim close to them and practice spotting their bubbles.

7. Learn bilateral breathing – breathing on both sides

If you’re swimming in a rectangular course where you have to swim out a short distance before turning left or right along the shoreline, you can use the shoreline to keep track of your position. However, this may mean that you have to breathe to a particular side that may be uncomfortable. So practice breathing on both sides during your freestyle swim training. Also, breathing on both sides will keep your stroke in balance and allow you to swim straighter for longer.

8. Take advantage of the draft

It is legal to draft off of another swimmer during a triathlon. This can be beneficial to your performance as it can help you save energy. There are two ways to draft off of another swimmer. The first is to swim directly behind a lead swimmer. The second is to swim in the wake of a lead swimmer. Both of these methods can be effective in open-water swimming.

9. The start and positioning

There are two ways to start a traditional triathlon, either by wading into deeper water or by starting on the beach. Many triathletes will start by “dolphining”, which is taking a shallow dive or leap forward, gliding for a few yards underwater, and then standing and leaping out again until the swimmer is deep enough to begin swimming. This can be effective, especially for more experienced swimmers.

10. Start out relaxed! 

The advice to swim hard at the start of an open water swim to join a particular pack of swimmers is not always the best idea, especially if you are also competing in a triathlon. It is better to start swimming long and relaxed, finding your own pace. Once you have found a good pace, you can then increase the intensity if you want. This will help to keep your heart rate lower and prepare you better for the bike ride.

11. Learn drills for open-water swimming

Water Polo Drill (or open-face swimming)

The water polo drill is based on swimming with your face out of the water. This develops the necessary strength to lift your head while sighting during a triathlon without disrupting your swimming rhythm.

Drill Set 1

Remember to always focus on your form. In a 25-yard pool, swim 10 x 25’s – half the length with your face out of the water, and half regular freestyle. Take 15 seconds to rest between each 25. When you feel comfortable with this, then challenge yourself and move up to the next level. Remember to focus on your form.

Drill Set 2

Do ten 50-yard swims, alternating between swimming face out and regular freestyle. Take a 20-30 second break between each 50. Remember that this can be tough on your neck and back, so feel free to use fins until you’re comfortable without them.

12. Always be prepared

If you are prepared for something, you will be less likely to be too excited about it. This is because you will feel more confident about the situation. To prepare for something, pack your belongings the night before to make sure you have everything you need.

13. Be confident

We should all be confident, even if we feel like we need to work on some skills or are not perfect. Just like Nike says, we should “Just do it!”

14. Go for it from the start but stay calm

When you enter the water, it is important to remain calm. If you are enjoying the crowd, create a positive energy that other swimmers can feed off of. If you are too nervous or need to avoid the crowd, try to place yourself at a safe distance. Remember to breathe and keep calm if you are participating in a race.

15. Remember to breathe

If you start to feel panicked, take deep breaths and think of something calming. If you’re in the water when it happens, roll over and float on your back until you’re ready to try again. Always be aware of your surroundings and look for a safety kayaker or other support crew if you need help.

16. Know the drill when drafting

You can draft behind other swimmers in open water, but it can be difficult to do correctly. The swimmer in front of you might not be a good navigator, which could cause problems for you. Additionally, if you get too close to the person in front of you, you might get kicked in the face. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and the other swimmers around you. If you want to draft behind someone, it’s okay to do so for a little while. However, if you start to get too close, you should pass that person and find someone else to draft behind.

17. Talk to yourself!

If you’re feeling freaked out, try talking through the situation out loud. This can help you figure out how to solve the problem, and you might even find yourself laughing at the situation. Just like in the movie Finding Nemo, when the character Dory tells herself to keep swimming, remember that you can get through anything if you just keep going.

18. Relax and play!

If you’re struggling to ride the waves, stay calm and try your best. You could also try to adopt the persona of a dolphin. Always prioritize safety though, and don’t be afraid to head back to shore if it becomes too much. It’s better to realize what you need to work on before getting into a dangerous situation.

Basic safety for a casual swim with friends

1. Check water conditions before entering

Be sure to survey the area around you before entering the water to swim. There may be potential hazards such as boat traffic that are not immediately visible. Additionally, the water quality could be poor or dangerous. Make sure to look for any signs that could be a warning of a “No Swim” area.

2. Have a plan for emergencies

What is your plan in case something happens to you or your friend? Does someone else know where you’re going? Will someone be watching from shore, ready to take action if you need assistance? Try to plan for everything and reduce uncertainty as much as possible.

3. Understand currents, rip currents, and such

One advantage of open water swimming over pool swimming is that currents can provide an extra challenge and help you to swim faster. This topic alone warrants a whole article, but for now, keep the following tips in mind:

4. If it looks quick, it is

Use caution when deciding whether to enter the water as conditions can be dangerous.

5. Ride it ‘til it weakens

If you find yourself caught in a rip current, the best course of action is to go with the flow of the current until it begins to dissipate. After it has weakened, you can begin swimming back to shore, parallel to the coastline. If you try to swim directly against the current, you will only tire yourself out needlessly.

6. Stay calm, be safe, and be aware

Currents are a natural occurrence and the best way to stay safe is to stay calm and be aware of your surroundings.

7. Know your surroundings

Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Boats, swimmers, marine life, and changing weather and water conditions can all be dangerous. Pay attention to your surroundings and get out of the water if you feel unsafe.

8. Watch the weather

If it looks like it might rain or there is a chance of thunderstorms, it’s best not to swim. Check a reliable weather forecast before swimming. If you hear thunder while you are swimming, get to land and find somewhere safe immediately. You don’t know how quickly a storm might be coming or where it is going, so get out of the water and take cover. Follow the USMS weather safety plan.

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