It goes without saying that swimming in a pool is very different to open water swimming. To begin with the open water is colder, darker and you don’t have nice blue lines to follow! Here are a few key swim skills from a past participant and experienced Triathlete on how to make the swim a little less daunting!
When swimming in open water races you need to make sure you are swimming in a straight line, the shortest route. To ensure this you need to practice sighting. Sight an immovable object on the skyline e.g. a building, tree or landmark, not a moving object like a boat! If water conditions are calm and you can sight the changing tent from distance then even better! Every 8 to 10 arm pulls glance quickly up as you breathe, sight your object then carry on.
This is breathing on both sides as opposed to just one – unilateral. This is important so you can see what is going on all around you. The swim is a straight line course with no buoys to go around but its essential to know where your fellow swimmers are to avoid clashing arms and feet. Practice this in training by breathing every 3 or 5 arm pulls.
To do this you swim right behind a swimmer and use their speed to carry you along, it takes practice though. You will conserve energy (as you do on a bike) because the swimmer in front is breaking the water in front of them and you move through water that is already moving, which is easier.
Front crawl is the most efficient stroke. If swimming is not your strength and you would rather do breaststroke, don’t panic, you will not be alone! There’s no shame in being able to keep your eyes on the target and compare notes with your teammate. Remember you have 60 minutes to complete the 0.8 mile swim.
Try Open Water:
The more time you can spend swimming in open water in your wetsuit the better. It also helps get used to the temperature difference between a pool and a loch! There are opportunities to swim in open water across the country so no matter where you live, contact your nearest lido, triathlon club, swimming pool or have a look online! If you would like to practise in Loch Tay, from Kindrochit, give us a call or send an email. We don’t offer swim training but accommodation is available (depending on availability) in the Kindrochit Garden Flat