Open Water Swimming Race

A Triathlon Start Can Sometimes Resemble A Washing Machine

Open-water swimming is a great activity that involves a bit of technique, a great deal of assurance, and some basic necessities, and if it’s a triathlon, TENACITY and guts.

.This type of exercise is great for any runner, no matter what your reason: perhaps you just want to mix up your routine, try to shed some pounds, or get ready for your first triathlon.

This is a great opportunity to begin open-water swimming, as the British outdoor swimming spots and lakes are now prepared for sessions.

We requested Fenella Langridge, a world-renowned middle-distance triathlete with a home base in Salisbury, to discuss the advantages of swimming and offer her tips on how to start making a foray into open-water swimming.

Swim at a centre, in the summer

Langridge expresses his uneasiness about swimming in open water unaccompanied. Having a companion when going out into the water or having somebody vigilantly watching from land is a wise decision if any trouble arises.

She suggests that inexperienced open-water swimmers sign up for a supervised open-water swimming facility, where they will normally receive an orientation to the centre and some instruction on the fundamentals of open-water swimming. A predetermined route will be indicated and a squad of lifeguards, frequently navigating the lake in kayaks or motorboats, will be on duty.

Langridge practices his swimming at Vobster Quay which is located near Froome and New Forest Water Park. Outdoor Swimmer has created a compilation of securely-supervised outdoor pool locations across the UK. Be ready to swim a prescribed route (anywhere from 100m to a higher distance), that will be indicated by buoys in the water, with a start and finish easily discernible point.

The majority of centres are open from May to October, Langridge states that this is an intelligent period to pick up the activity since the water will be much milder (17-20C). Due to the milder environment, it is more probable that you will stay devoted to training.

Langridge cautions that some people may go swimming during the winter, but they usually do it consistently, meaning they swim every week, regardless of the season. Going for a swim in an unguarded body of water during December could prove to be hazardous if one does not have any prior experience.

If choosing to swim alone, it is important to inform someone of your plans, make sure you understand your environment well and be aware of what you will do if you require help.

It’s nothing like pool swimming

Langridge chuckled as they said, “You could be an amazing swimmer in the pool – but when it comes to being in open water, you could be pretty useless!” You don’t have the abilities necessary to do OWS well right now, but if you put in the effort and train you can learn it.

The most significant ability for OWS (aside from being able to swim) is to be able to change easily. Langridge reports that good open-water swimmers can adjust their stroke style when faced with different scenarios, such as changes in current, getting struck by a wave, and even if they are swimming alongside someone else.

It is anticipated that someone who can swim in a pool for thirty minutes straight will be able to swim in open water for a quarter of an hour before they become too tired. Wetsuits offer assistance with buoyancy, but that is quite different from taking a running start at one end of a swimming pool or pausing on the edge of it to take a break or sip something to drink.

Improve your open-water swimming technique

Open water swimming (OWS) typically prefers front crawl as the most energy-efficient stroke. If, however, you are not focused on speed, then use a stroke you find comfortable – but avoid using backstroke as it can be difficult to direct oneself and floating on your back is regarded as a sign of the need for help in this type of swimming.

You should focus on maintaining a rapid stroke rate and developing your strength on both sides of your body. Doing so will assist you in adapting to changing conditions and help you to stay on target – essential in times when the visibility is minimal and there are plenty of distractions (ranging from other swimmers and paddle boarders to ducks fighting and algae tickling your feet).

Langridge suggests visualizing train tracks below you while swimming to keep you swimming as straight as possible and to encourage your arms to stay aligned with them. Maintain your head in an unmoving and relaxed position because as soon as it starts to move, your whole body will follow.

Langridge recommends taking a glance at buoys for navigation every few strokes to keep on track until you’ve gotten used to the motion. She suggested not to lift your head too much unless the waves were really rough.

Be cautious like a crocodile in a calm situation; keep a watchful eye on the surroundings but keep your nose and mouth in the water. This will help ensure that your head remains steady and enables you to stay on track.


You will need to both plan and have a good sight technique to ensure that your 1.5km swim will not exceed 1.6km.

Before beginning, it is wise to conduct some research to gain knowledge of the plan of action.

It is usually simple to observe marker buoys when on shore, but they become substantially harder to tell apart once in the water. Having an understanding of the course can assist you in imagining the path you should take when you’re attempting to discover the markers.

A great way to reduce the impact sighting may have on your swimming technique is to use large, towering points on the route line or river’s edge instead of the buoys themselves.

It’s not uncommon for swimming in a lake to include walking around the perimeter to observe the various turns and identify specific reference points that can help guide them as they swim.

Choose large, tall objects that are easily visible. Give particular attention to the concluding portion of the course, and the area you will exit the water if it is distinct from the beginning area.

Once you have entered the water, if the closest buoy is not too far off, use the first leg as a warm-up and when you arrive check the direction to the next marker.

You can also assess the current of the body of water – whether it is the ocean, sea, or lake – by swimming to the closest buoy and staying close to it to determine your movement. Consider this when deciding on your route to the initial point of reference.

Sighting technique

It is important to implement this approach so your vision lines up with the shot and doesn’t interfere with your flow and speed.

The biggest mistake is mistaking view and inhalation – if your head is pointed up and out and you take a breath simultaneously, your legs will end up decreasing, halting your buoyancy in the water.

Instead, keep your head low so only your eyes are visible above the surface of the water, and look ahead. You can stay underwater while breathing out by keeping your body horizontal and keeping your legs elevated.

Then, while keeping your head in the water, breathe in while rolling your body onto its side on the next stroke. This kind of sighting is sometimes called the “crocodile technique,” because only your eyes can be seen above the water.

Sometimes looking at your first sight may only give you a basic understanding of where you are going, so training yourself to take two observations in consecutive strokes can be helpful. The second observation enables you to pinpoint precisely what you’re trying to find.

Do not raise your head too much or for an extended period. You need to keep a consistent pace while swimming to maintain your momentum. Once you have seen the object, make minor changes to your swimming technique; otherwise, you will be swimming in a zigzag pattern.

Sighting can be practised in a pool. If you have an interval timer at the side of the pool, attempt to practice your sighting method during a swim set and make note of the second hand of the clock to measure your time for the middle of the pool. You can also perfect the double sighting method using this technique.

Swimming straight

It is possible to increase proficiency in swimming straight by practising, and this can be done more easily while in open water. Practising in an open body of water gives you the assurance of not having to worry about coming into contact with another swimmer or striking an obstruction when you swim with your eyes shut.

Select a buoy or a bunch of markers around 30 meters from you, close your eyes and try to swim unerringly directly towards them. It’s a good idea to frequently glance around to make sure you’re staying on track while swimming, and go at a relaxed pace until you are comfortable with maintaining a straight line.

As you go faster and faster, it becomes harder to stay in a straight line, so experiment with varying levels of effort and get accustomed to your technique.

This exercise will help you work out how many times you will have to look for your next stroke read during a race, which could range from eight to twelve depending on the situation.

Swimming behind other swimmers without having to stop and sight as often can be beneficial, but it can’t replace the need to be able to swim straight and get good at a sighting.


During a race, one can decrease the amount of work required by swimming following behind another swimmer. It’s similar to cycling behind someone and using them to block the wind, or in this instance, the water.

Swimmers differ in the way they can swim in a straight path and their way of performing the kick stroke. Making a swimmer move forward with a slow kick is simpler than imitating the spinning of a washing machine.

Similar to being on a bicycle, if you are too far away from the swimmer in front, the drafting effect soon vanishes, so you have to swim directly behind your feet.

If you continually position yourself too close to the front swimmer, they may start kicking harder to make your progress more difficult, so be sure to work on maintaining the proper position. Having the ability to stay focused is advantageous and can be cultivated in conditions other than racing.

Organize a team of two to four swimmers and complete 20-40 strokes while swimming on the stomach. When finished, have the first swimmer move away to the side while allowing the next swimmer to start their strokes and then regroup at the back.

The objective is to attempt to keep the team unified and simulate the selection process you would experience during a competition.

Train in a team with others to prepare for competitive swimming and become familiar with the technique of drafting.


In sea or river courses you may encounter currents. The technique does not vary when you are racing in a river or other body of water with a current, however, it can influence your performance.

Depending on which way it’s blowing, the wind can cause you to swim either farther or shorter, as well as making it harder to stay on a straight path or manage turns.

Psychologically, this also has an effect as, when running an A-to-B course, you will sometimes have the current aiding you on one half and against you on the return trip. Essentially, if you’re swimming and the second half is going against the flow, the swim will be harder and you should make sure to manage your energy levels!

The paths you are taking need to be changed when the water is flowing against your intended route.

Simply looking at and aiming towards the buoy will cause you to end up swimming in a curved line and taking longer to get to the turning point. To account for any displacement caused by the side current, you should shoot higher (or lower) than your intended target.

When about to reach a bend while swimming against a current, it is commonly seen that swimmers may have difficulty manoeuvring the turn; thus, it’s recommended to make the necessary arrangements ahead of time.

You can assess the direction of a current when you’re at sea by swimming to the first buoy and observing where you drift as you stay near it. After you get close to the first turning point, alter your track to account for the flow of the current.

Opting for a more extended path through the river can often be beneficial since the rate of the flow can differ extensively. In the majority of cases, the flow of the water is less powerful in shallower regions, while the more profound regions have more powerful currents.

The river will be deepest at the outside of the curves. If you’re going against the direction of the water’s flow, remain close to the inner curve; when you’re heading downstream, stay toward the outer edge.

Use the pool for training drills

Swimming in a pool is a completely different experience than swimming in the open water, yet it is a great place to perfect your technique with no worries of wind, currents, or tiredness.

Langridge goes to the pool in the area where she lives 3 to 4 times a week for honing her skills and raising her stamina.

For those who are inexperienced with swimming, she advises to concentrate on sighting while in the pool: “Ask somebody to stand at the end of the lane and show some fingers – try to look every two strokes and count the figures,” she suggests.

She suggests that putting a band around your feet (or a pull buoy) will keep them still, thus enabling you to cycle your arms faster. If she doesn’t have a strap or float, Langridge gets creative with a pre-owned inner tube that was previously attached to her Parcours bicycle wheels.

She points out that in OWS, the legs are predominantly used for stabilization and creating an efficient motion. A faster arm action makes you have more power, be more upright and better able to handle unfavourable conditions of the water.

Wetsuits are essential

Most supervised open-water swimming venues require the use of wetsuits when the temperature goes below 16C.

Langridge stresses the benefit of wearing a long-sleeved suit while swimming because it will help you effortlessly move through the water and provide you with buoyancy if you become drained and need to stay afloat.

It is often possible to acquire a wetsuit from the local swimming place or from a brand like Zone3 for a minimal time, typically ranging from one month up to a whole season. However, if you are serious about swimming, it would be better to put money into your own wetsuit.

According to Langridge, your wetsuit must fit you well, or else it will slow you down when you swim. Each suit is created distinctively – typically, their web pages have comprehensive instructions.

Ensure the wetsuit is pulled up securely around your body so that you can move freely and can easily carry out 10 arm turns without feeling hampered. Langridge suggests a 3mm thickness wetsuit be used while swimming or competing in triathlons during the summer.

To make getting dressed easier, Langridge wears her socks when she puts on the suit, making it a smoother process. Gloves are also often worn to guard the suit fabric against her fingernails. When you enter the water, splash some of it onto the suit to make it stick to your body and allow your body to adjust to the temperature.


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