Swimming is largely a technique based sport, meaning you don’t necessarily need to be very strong to swim quickly, get your technique right and you will be flying through the lengths!
Swimming in a pool allows you time to work on your front crawl technique and increase your swim fitness in a comfortable environment. Coaches can see the corrections needed to your stroke a lot easier in a pool. In open water it is impossible to see under the water and provide feedback, and it is under the water where all the propulsion to move you forward comes from.
At RG Active we recommend finding a local swimming group and joining in, this will mean a coach can provide you valuable feedback on your technique as well as providing a structured swim session and other people to swim with.
If you can’t find a group to swim with and are doing your swim training on your own in public swim sessions be sure to follow a structured session and not just mindlessly swim lengths – read our section on structuring swim sessions for more information.
Once the open water swimming season begins, normally at the start of May, you should start incorporating an open water swim into your schedule whether it replaces one of your existing weekly pool swims or you add in extra swim on the weekend – at RG Active we can’t stress enough how important it is to have experienced open water swimming BEFORE race day rolls around!
Open water swimming is a very different experience to swimming in a pool, we don’t want to scare anyone but we have seen some very good life long pool swimmers panic in open water to begin with just because the environment is so different.
MINIMUM OPEN WATER SWIMMING EXPERIENCE
For those that are entering triathlon for the challenge and not overly concerned with your time we would recommend of swimming a minimum of 3-4 times in open water before your race day (of course still keep up your indoor swimming). For those new to the sport within this time we often see people improve quickly as they become more comfortable with the environment and are able to focus more on their swimming.
Top reasons people can initially panic when open water swimming for the first time:
- It’s cold and people start to tense up.
- It’s normally dark under the water and you can’t see much at all.
- You’re wearing a tight restrictive wetsuit.
- All of the above often cause people to forget to breath out under the water so they start to get out of breath very quickly
- It is a wide-open space with no walls to cling onto you have to rely on your ability to tread water and the buoyancy of your wetsuit.
TECHNIQUE ADAPTIONS FOR OPEN WATER SWIMMING
General technique for front crawl swimming is the same whether you’re indoors or outdoors, although you will need to incorporate a few changes to your stroke to help with the outdoor environment, for example.
- You will need to begin sighting above the water to see where you’re going.
- You may want to try a straighter arm swim stroke to account for the restrictive wetsuit.
- A wetsuit is very buoyant and keeps your legs afloat meaning you can reduce the level of kick you do, for someone with a very inefficient leg kick this can sometimes help reduce drag.