How to Swim Straight in Open Water – Issue #130

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How to Swim Straight in Open Water

Dear Friend,

How do I swim straight in the open water?

This is a major challenge to open water swimming (and even swimming in a pool with lane lines!), and the key lies in one of our other fun challenges in swimming: breathing!

Here’s a quick guide to swimming straight:

How to Swim Straight in Open Water

1. Simply doing alternate (or bi-lateral) breathing would go a long way towards making you swim in a straight. If you are comfortable with this, breathe every 3 strokes and you will be much more in line with where you want to go.

2. If you cannot get enough oxygen while breathing bilaterally, this can be a big problem on a distance swim. Practice swimming and breathing 2 strokes on the left, 2 on the right, then go to 3 breaths left, 3 right. Then try 2 on the left, 1 on the right, 3-1, etc. Find what works for in keeping you in line and stick with that plan in your race.

3. Practice sighting less often, as this will disrupt your stroke rhythm and balance. You can start by practicing in a pool, and then in the open water before race day.

4. Keep your strokes long and extend that arm out in front on each stroke and drive it forward.

5. Practice the One Arm Drill (in the Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD & Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming), and pay attention to your arm pull, making sure you are not crossing in with your hand.

6. Practice open water swimming before your race! Just being used to the environment will get you more comfortable, and you will intuitively pick up on
swimming straight out there.

Read on for a stroke-improving workout!


“Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.”
-Anthony Robbins

Workout of the Month

Never stop training technique!


Cruise= Interval you can easily make consecutive 100-yard or meter swims on with about 5-10 seconds rest.

Warm Up: 300, breathing every 3 strokes

Drill: 6×75’s. Do the first length of each 75 with hands in fists, the second doing six kicks for every stroke (glide!), and the third straight freestyle). Take :15-20 rest between each 75.

Main: Countdown!
#1 and #3 on your cruise interval. #2 count your strokes per 50, focus on rotating your hips with each stroke, and make an attempt to bring down your stroke count throughout the swim.

Warm Down: 200, breathe on weaker side on odd lengths and focus on keeping your head position- eyes on the bottom of the pool

Total: 2750

For more on the swim and 12-week workout plans for all distances, click here!

Stay tuned for more on the latest in triathlon and swimming from Tri Swim Coach soon!