Open Water Swim Tips: Ready for a Race - See Her Swim

Open Water Swim Tips: Ready for a Race

Open water racing is a fun way to take your pool practice to the next level. Consider tackling an event near you, whether it be a short race in a reservoir or a triathlon on the coast. These open water swim tips will get you ready for your very first race or help you shatter your PR. 

Before the Race

Give yourself enough time before the race to get familiar with the water that day. Pay attention to the conditions, specifically if it’s windy and choppy, and know the direction of the tide or current, if there is one. Get to know the race course by counting the buoys and picking some spots you can sight on. And finally, be confident. Trust that you have done the open water swim training you need to succeed today. 

The Entry

Yep, there’s a technique for getting in the water when the race starts. Keep your steps short and quick at first and swing your legs out to each side as the water gets deeper. If swimming in a big crowd is overwhelming, start off to the side and merge back into the madness when you feel more comfortable. If the race starts in the water instead of on the shore, dolphin dives are a quick way to move through shallow water. In knee to hip deep water, push off the bottom and dive forward, then repeat. Keep in mind, these don’t work well in crowds. 

Stroke Technique

Focusing on each stroke is a good way to stay calm at the start of your race. Keep your head down and stay long with your lead arm out front. Rotate your body from side to side with both your shoulders and your hips. Rolling from your hips gives you power and helps minimize resistance in the water. Above all, relax. Don’t fight the water. If it’s choppy, don’t move your hand over the waves. Slice through them instead. 

Drafting

If you’re a seasoned open water swimmer and are trying to improve your race time, drafting is a great way to do it. Let another swimmer cut through the water for you as you save energy swimming in their wake. To draft properly, swim with someone who is passing you, not someone you need to catch up to. Stay at their hip line or right at their feet. You may accidentally touch the swimmer, but just make sure it doesn’t happen with each stroke. That can be very annoying. 

Buoy Turns

Typically a bottleneck on the race course, buoy turns can be stressful for all swimmers. If it doesn’t feel good in the pack, go wide. The extra distance is worth it if it will help you stay calm and keep your pace steady. Try backstroke when you have a little room. Sight less often when you make the turn. Just put your head down and get around it quickly. If you need to make a sharp turn, take a freestyle stroke then roll onto your back for a backstroke, then flip onto your stomach for another freestyle stroke. This pinwheel motion makes it easier to take a tight turn. 

Bathroom Break

If your open water swim race is 2 miles or longer, chances are you’ll have to go “to the bathroom” at some point during your swim. Yes, this is a tip on how to pee while swimming. It’s actually tough to learn how to swim and pee at the same time, but it’s something you’ll want to work on if you’re swimming for time. To start, stop swimming and relax in the water. Start to pee and then move your arms to start swimming. Eventually you can add your legs to the motion. It sounds simple, but it does take practice! 

Exiting the Water

Most open water swim races end on the shore. Don’t get too excited when you realize you can finally touch the bottom. Remember, you’re much faster swimming than you are stumbling through waist-deep water. Keep swimming strong until your hand touches the bottom. Then you can pop up! Like on entry, swing your legs out to each side to clear the water. Some people get dizzy when they stand up. If that happens, slow it down and take deep breaths before you keep moving. 

Wetsuit Removal

If you’re doing a triathlon, you’ll need to run over to your bike as quickly as you can while stripping out of your wetsuit. Easier said than done. First, pull your arms out and stick your cap and goggles in one of the loose arms. Then pull it down to your waist. You might want to wait til you’re at your bike before you peel it down to your ankles and then off your legs. It all depends on how coordinated you are!

Open Water Swim Tips: Ready for a Race

Open water racing is a fun way to take your pool practice to the next level. Consider tackling an event near you, whether it be a short race in a reservoir or a triathlon on the coast. These open water swim tips will get you ready for your very first race or help you shatter your PR. 

Before the Race

Give yourself enough time before the race to get familiar with the water that day. Pay attention to the conditions, specifically if it’s windy and choppy, and know the direction of the tide or current, if there is one. Get to know the race course by counting the buoys and picking some spots you can sight on. And finally, be confident. Trust that you have done the open water swim training you need to succeed today. 

The Entry

Yep, there’s a technique for getting in the water when the race starts. Keep your steps short and quick at first and swing your legs out to each side as the water gets deeper. If swimming in a big crowd is overwhelming, start off to the side and merge back into the madness when you feel more comfortable. If the race starts in the water instead of on the shore, dolphin dives are a quick way to move through shallow water. In knee to hip deep water, push off the bottom and dive forward, then repeat. Keep in mind, these don’t work well in crowds. 

Stroke Technique

Focusing on each stroke is a good way to stay calm at the start of your race. Keep your head down and stay long with your lead arm out front. Rotate your body from side to side with both your shoulders and your hips. Rolling from your hips gives you power and helps minimize resistance in the water. Above all, relax. Don’t fight the water. If it’s choppy, don’t move your hand over the waves. Slice through them instead. 

Drafting

If you’re a seasoned open water swimmer and are trying to improve your race time, drafting is a great way to do it. Let another swimmer cut through the water for you as you save energy swimming in their wake. To draft properly, swim with someone who is passing you, not someone you need to catch up to. Stay at their hip line or right at their feet. You may accidentally touch the swimmer, but just make sure it doesn’t happen with each stroke. That can be very annoying. 

Buoy Turns

Typically a bottleneck on the race course, buoy turns can be stressful for all swimmers. If it doesn’t feel good in the pack, go wide. The extra distance is worth it if it will help you stay calm and keep your pace steady. Try backstroke when you have a little room. Sight less often when you make the turn. Just put your head down and get around it quickly. If you need to make a sharp turn, take a freestyle stroke then roll onto your back for a backstroke, then flip onto your stomach for another freestyle stroke. This pinwheel motion makes it easier to take a tight turn. 

Bathroom Break

If your open water swim race is 2 miles or longer, chances are you’ll have to go “to the bathroom” at some point during your swim. Yes, this is a tip on how to pee while swimming. It’s actually tough to learn how to swim and pee at the same time, but it’s something you’ll want to work on if you’re swimming for time. To start, stop swimming and relax in the water. Start to pee and then move your arms to start swimming. Eventually you can add your legs to the motion. It sounds simple, but it does take practice! 

Exiting the Water

Most open water swim races end on the shore. Don’t get too excited when you realize you can finally touch the bottom. Remember, you’re much faster swimming than you are stumbling through waist-deep water. Keep swimming strong until your hand touches the bottom. Then you can pop up! Like on entry, swing your legs out to each side to clear the water. Some people get dizzy when they stand up. If that happens, slow it down and take deep breaths before you keep moving. 

Wetsuit Removal

If you’re doing a triathlon, you’ll need to run over to your bike as quickly as you can while stripping out of your wetsuit. Easier said than done. First, pull your arms out and stick your cap and goggles in one of the loose arms. Then pull it down to your waist. You might want to wait til you’re at your bike before you peel it down to your ankles and then off your legs. It all depends on how coordinated you are!

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