Open water swims can seem intimidating when compared to the comfort of swimming in a pool. However, they should not be something you dread on race day, instead just think of them as another aspect of a triathlon that you are comfortable with, and have come prepared for! Here are some tips on how to prepare for your open water swims that will hopefully get you feeling excited and ready for when race day comes.
Before going into any kind of race it is always crucial that you practice. Before doing an open water swim it is important to be confident in yourself and comfortable with the distance you will be swimming. Find out the swim distance of your upcoming race and practice that distance plus a little extra as open water swims have natural conditions (i.e., waves) which can make the swim more demanding, ultimately requiring more energy.
Practicing your stroke will be another exercise that can greatly enhance your performance on race day. Knowing what stroke you will use can help to maximize the speed of your swim. That way you can practice using it weeks in advance, perfecting your stroke! Most swimmers choose to use front crawl as it is one of the fastest strokes. That being said, be sure to practice another stroke like the breast stroke so that if you do get tired on race day you have alternatives.
Lastly, be sure to get out in the water before race day arrives. It is one thing to practice in a pool, but if you have the opportunity to swim in an environment similar to race day, it will make all the difference when the day finally arrives. Remember to bring a buddy when you practice in open water! Unlike race day, you don’t have spectators, other competitors or lifeguards watching you when you are practicing.
So get outside this week and visit a lake with some friends. Enjoy the sun while you get comfortable with the open water, fine-tune your stroke to optimize your speed, and watch yourself get stronger and more confident for your 2017 race season!