Open water swimming is very different from swimming in a pool. You have to be much more aware of your surroundings and ready for other factors that may be present, such as currents and waves. Pro triathlete and Ironman champion Heather Jackson shares some of her tips for preparing for an open water swim. The best thing to do is practice as much as you can in open waters before race day, but if you don’t have access to an ocean or lake practicing these tips in a pool works too.
Open Water Swimming Tips
1. Sighting Technique
Depending on the type of water the race is going to be in, different sighting techniques will be required. Sighting in calm, lake water is going to require a different technique than swimming in rough, ocean water. Swimming out in open waters requires you to scan above the water. Unlike typical pool swimming, you can’t rely on looking at the bottom to guide you. Even if you’re only able to practice the technique in a pool, this is a good skill to master before race day so you can be sure to stay on course while maintaining efficiency in your swim.
2. Get Used to Your Wetsuit
If you’re not used to swimming in a wetsuit, it’s a good idea to practice in it before race day. Wetsuits can often feel constrictive. Even Heather says that she can feel a little claustrophobic in one. The more comfortable you can get with the feel of swimming in a wetsuit, the better.
3. Don’t Think About What’s Below
Heather’s biggest open water swimming tip is to not think about what’s below you. Out in the open water, there is going to aquatic life present. If you, like Heather, are not a fan of the wildlife in the open waters, it’s a good idea to mentally prepare for any sightings or encounters that may occur.
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