Navigating Tides in Open Water Triathlon Swimming

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Swimming seems fairly simple when you are gliding through a training pool. But something feels different when you try open water swimming for the first time. The waves, the temperature, the current and the wind over the top of the water all seem very noticeable and very distracting as you are trying to complete your swim. As you begin to master the open swim, you must first learn how to manage the tides.

While you may get lucky with your competition on a perfect, beautiful, and wind free day for your race, you may also come into contact with the exact opposite conditions. It is not uncommon to have stormy weather, high gusts of wind or even rain during or right before your competition. Each of these factors will greatly impact the state of the water you are swimming in.

How to Prepare for Tides during a Triathlon
The first thing to consider is that to be in a strong position to swim through tides on the day of your competition, you must first practice in the same conditions. As you prepare for your triathlon, be sure to add swims in a variety of open water conditions. It is through navigating through the tides that you will be able to build the skill sets to successfully complete this portion of your race.

How to Swim Through the Waves
Our bodies are pre-programmed to react when we are swimming into waves. Our heads often pull out of the water so that we avoid swallowing water. But this is the exact opposite of what you want to do during a triathlon race. When you raise your head up, your shoulders often also come out of the water. And then when the water hits you, it could actually push you backward, diminishing any progress you made or are trying to make in your swim. To successfully navigate through high waves, put your head down and ride the waves as naturally as possible. By doing so, you are not fighting against the natural motion of the water and even though it may not feel like it at times, you are in fact making progress.

Proper training and knowing what challenges you may face during a triathlon will help you to prepare properly for a successful race.