Open Water Training - Part 2

For beginner and experienced triathletes alike, swimming in open water can be a challenge. But only to get swim fit and ready in a pool does not mean you are ready for open water. What makes open water swimming special? What are the important differences and what do you have to keep in mind? Here are some helpful tips for you!

Tips for your safety

  • Get to know the surroundings and conditions as good as you can

  • Wear a colorful swim cap to be visible (for people from the shore and other people in the water)

  • If you are alone, swim only in open water that you know and close by the shore so there is the possibility to take a break whenever you need one

  • Bring a colorful buoy for your own safety and pull it behind you

  • Be sure to have the right gear that can protect you from cold water (neoprene cap, -socks, -gloves)

  • Open water is wide, do not overestimate the distance and listen to your body

  • Avoid swimming if you are feeling unwell

  • Have a water bottle at the shore (especially if you are swimming in the sea, your mouth is getting really dry)

  • Don’t forget to take a spare pair contact lenses or your glasses

  • Last but not least remove your jewellery (particularly rings), hands shrink in cooler temperatures

Tips for training - In general

  • It is important to work on and improve your breathing and sighting technique, so swimming can become consistent and effortless

  • To sustain a steady pace, good technique and endurance are essential

  • Practise all open water techniques (swim straight ahead, look and orientate, breathing) as much as you can. This should be a regularly part in your normal training.

  • Keep training also under bad weather conditions to get used to it (in competitions there is not only sunshine)

  • Before you go in the water, warm up your arms for example with a Thera-Band

Tips for training - Breathing

  • 4 x 50m focus on your breathing, make sure when you are breathing out your head is in the water (all bubbles out) and turn your head to the side when you are breathing in

  • 5 x 200m bilateral breathing, every 3 / 5 stroke

  • 15min unilateral breathing without touching the end of the pool

Tips for training - Orientation

  • When you are in open waters, look for a clear landmark at the shore and (try to) swim straight ahead

  • Water polo freestyle (looking up and straight ahead), breathing still to the side. Intervals like 200m freestyle, of these 50m water polo freestyle or you lift up your head every 3 / 5 stroke and look ahead (your body is not in optional position which can break the rhythm of your stroke)

  • Head-up freestyle to try and focus on something at the end of the pool / buoy in the sea

  • Close your eyes and swim 5-10 strokes, hopefully you will go in straight line otherwise you will get to know which way you drift and can improve your straight line, keep trying.

Tips for training - Swimming in a Bulk/Group

  • Hand on foot of the person ahead

  • Actively practise drafting

  • Each person has to be in front at once and set the direction, the others try to follow

Tips for training - Swimming with a partner

  • Simulate a situation like in the competition: pull his legs, dive him under the water, swim over him

Tips for training - Technique and Pace

  • Change of pace, 5 x 30 strokes sprint, 100m easy-going, repeat

  • Different techniques to modify your training (swim with paddles, catch-ups, etc.)

  • Take your kickboard, 5 x 100m just kick


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