Open Water Swimming Tips for Triathlons – Issue #71

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Open Water Swimming Tips Newsletter

I hope you’re having a great start to your September. As I have just competed in the La Jolla Roughwater Swim here in
San Diego last weekend, another important point about race strategy and pacing came to my mind.

First, at the start, many competitors crowded towards the left side of the starting line, which looked to be the most straight line to the first buoy. Noticing this, I walked over to the right side before the gun went off. At the start of the swim, I experienced almost no crowding, touching, hitting, pulling, or any of the usual chaotic feeling that comes with the start of a triathlon or open water swim.

Remaining calm at the start was the key to success in my race. In the past I have been guilty of sprinting out ahead of the pack to get clear water. Then I inevitably pay for this strategy in the back half of my race as my muscles give out and I cannot regain my form or “shift gears” to have a strong finish. This is the exact opposite of what you want to be feeling, especially on a triathlon swim!

I actually never felt tired the entire race, and had plenty of energy as I exited the water.

Other important open water points:

  • It’s easier to follow someone than to continually try to sight the next buoy. You’re usually pretty safe that the person you are following is navigating correctly, but it may be tough to pick up the buoy without disrupting your stroke and lifting your head too much.
  • Try to not let your competitive juices get flowing on the swim. Swim your own race, leave the water with energy, and you can think about your place later in the triathlon.
  • Think long strokes!


“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

Workout of the Month

Great Beginner Workout! Cut down the yardage as necessary.

Cruise= and interval you can make about 8 100-yard or meter swims on with about 5-10 seconds rest

WARM UP: 300 Free

DRILL: 4×150’s
#1-2) 50 Fists/50 6 Kicks per stroke/50 Count Strokes
#3-4) 100 Kick/50 Build

MAIN: 1×600 Free 1:00 rest
4×50’s @ Cruise +:05 or Rest=:10
1×300 Free – Faster pace than 600 1:00 rest
4×50’s Descend 1-4 @ cruise

MORE DRILL: 300 Done as 25 Shark Fin Drill / 25 Breathe every 3 or 5 strokes
Alternate the Shark Fin Drill lengths left side/right side

WARM DOWN: 100 Easy Maintain Technique

TOTAL: 2600