There are countless challenges to open water swimming for triathletes. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your next race or training session:
1. Practice in the pool with workout buddies. It can be quite the shock and even panic can set in at the beginning of a triathlon, where there will be a large crowd all swimming towards the same point. It’s important to stay relaxed. If you can get a few training mates to jump in your lane and simulate the crowded feeling a few times before your race, you will likely remain in a calm state!
2. Don’t let the race be the first time you try your goggles out in the open water. Often times, even though your colored goggles are fine in the pool, when you get out into the open water, visibility becomes noticeably diminished. Goggles should not be a concern on race day, so get ones that work for you both in the pool and in the open water so there are no surprises come race day.
3. Practice high elbow recovery. Waves and chop in the open water will affect your stroke quite a bit, and if you’re getting your elbows high enough above the water on your recovery swim stroke, you won’t be as affected by these elements.
4. Stay to the outside. To avoid chaotic open water swim starts, find your own water and don’t worry about swimming a little extra or the need to get pole position on that first buoy. You will lose a lot less energy by staying on the perimeter, and you’ll be much less likely to be exposed to physical contact, which can be really draining!
5. For sighting, practice using landmarks instead of buoys. Open water conditions may not make it easy to see buoys from a distance, and the larger, more visible objects, like houses or hotels on the shore, or stationary boats will allow you to stay on track.