Tri Diva Reunion Event? Hell, yeah!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Top Ten Open Water Swimming Tips for Beginners

Open water swimming is what often causes the most anxiety for many beginning triathletes. Here are some tips to help you get prepared for you first season of triathlon open water swimming or just open water swimming in general. Also check out the bottom of this page for the open water swimming tip of the month and to see a list of books on swimming, some which focus on open water swimming.

10. Know the course. Look at the map of the swim or go to the lake,ocean etc., itself and figure out which direction you will need to swim and when. Talk to people who have previously done the race (in past years). Also pay attention when the waves(groups of swimmers) in front of you go and watch the pattern they are swimming in. If it is legal take another racer with you and swim the course in advance.

9. Learn more than one stroke. breaststroke,backstroke, and side stroke can all be used both to give you a rest from crawl and to help you to stay on course. Fly can be used if you really want to impress people or just have them think your plain crazy.(just joking, but you probably already realized that). Using breaststroke and backstore can also help you adjust to cold water.

8. Don't forget that you have two more events to go. Don't kick like crazy on the swim. Don't go for your all time swimming record and exhaust yourself. Additionally, don't start the swim to fast either.

7. Be prepared for the next wave of swimmers. Don't swim right on the course if you are not a strong swimmer and there are more waves to come. You will most likely end up in collision with a pack of swimmers or with faster swimmers. It is easier just to stay to the side a little and not get run over.

6. Be prepared to be able to swim a little further than the distance. Collisions with other swimmers, having to spot where you are going, and swimming off-course can all add extra difficulty/length to the swim. Also, in some (aka many) races the distance may not be measured accurately

5. Don't draft if you have not practiced the skill or only practiced it a little bit. At least not yet as a beginner. This is controversial, as I have seen a lot of articles and such advocating it. I don't advocate is though because, if you get to close to someones feet, you can end up getting kicked in the face and or loose your goggles. It also doesn't allow you to concentrate on your swimming-your form and your pace.

4. Concentrate on form. With all the other swimmers and trying to stay on course this can be tricky and you may only be able to focus on one element of form to correct which is fine. It gets easier over time though.

3. Don't practice open water swimming alone. No matter how good a swimmer you are you should never swim alone. Swim with another person or swim at an area with a lifeguard. In addition to safety having another person around can help you with technique.

2. Don't start at the front or middle of your wave if you are not a strong swimmer. This is a frequent mistake made by new triathletes. The natural tendency is to start further up so that you have less distance to swim, but it can be quite rough in the front or middle of the pack if you don't have much experience with open water swimming. You might also swim the first part too fast and get tired. Also don't start right behind someone try to stagger yourself so you don't get kicked by their feet when you start.

1. Don't Panic. Stay Relaxed. Also cold water can make you breathe rapidly which may make you feel like you are so nervous your breathing is being impacted. It the water is cold and this happens, relax, your body is adjusting to the water temperature and with time will adjust. Concrete on breathing deeply or visualize yourself handling the swim calmly. This will help you greatly.

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