Most people recognise open water swimming as part of the modern triathlon and other such sporting events, and have become used to seeing events televised though they may never try true open water swimming for themselves. Open water swimming is a great deal more difficult than taking a dip in your local swimming pool, there are more elements to consider such as water temperature, weather conditions and swell. Yet whether you are a novice looking to give the open water a try or a seasoned triathlete you will always be looking for ways to swim better and swim faster.
Improving Your Technique
By breaking down the different elements of the way that you swim you can see where you have room for improvement.
- Hand Entry: Your hand should be slicing into the water at about your goggle line; it should then be driven forwards through the water. Some swimmers prefer that the hand be out of the water for as long as possible but contrary to this it is actually a more efficient method to have the hand slicing through the water.
- Position of Head: When swimming freestyle it is important that you keep your head down, with only the very back of your head showing through the water; try not to turn your head as your body turns.
- The Pull: When you pull your hands back they should come all of the way back and go past your hips, with the last motion being acceleration or a push behind you rather than a lift of the hand straight out of the water.
- The Kick: Most swimmers automatically try to kick harder to compensate for a lack of balance in the swell of the water, but actually if you minimise your kick this will go a long way further to improving any balance issues plus will allow you to conserve energy.
- Eliminate Bad Habits: Swimmers can easily get into the bad habit of crossing their arms over on the pull. Taking a breath on the left will make your right arm cross over and vice versa, generally caused by an over rotation of the body. To avoid this try and keep your body in a straight line and stop your head moving from side to side with your body.
- Don’t stay away too long: Swimming in open water is hard, and the longer you leave the time between swims the more likely you are to lose your feel for the water, and forget its awareness of your buoyancy and balance.
- Concentrate on your weaknesses: Whatever the weakest part of your performance is, work on improving it. Spend as much time as possible on your weaknesses rather than on improving your strengths.
- Work on your lungs: You don’t only need a strong swimming style to be good at this sport you also need to have healthy lungs. To ensure that you are functioning at the best possible lung capacity include some breathing exercises in your warm up.
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