5 Open Water Skills to Work On – Part I

WARNING: Please don’t wait for the week before your race to practice your open water skills! Start now, my friends. If you are an open water swimmer or triathlete it is imperative to practice open water skills and make them a regular part of your training. Training in the open water is great practice for open water racing, but if you are limited to just pool training, try these five drills to improve your open water skills. 

Bilateral breathing is a skill that needs to be developed for your open water swimming. The benefits of Bilateral Breathing in the open water include swimming straighter, better visibility of competitors and drafting opportunities, and the option of breathing away from sun glare or chop.

Even if you feel you can swim faster breathing unilaterally chances are you will swim straighter in the open water breathing bilaterally, thus saving you time due to less distance traveled. 

Take the Swim Smooth 2-week bilateral challenge to get over the bilateral hump. For two weeks swim as much of your workouts breathing bilaterally as you can. We have found that after two weeks things begin to get easier and bilateral breathing becomes much more manageable.   

If you struggle with bilateral breathing have a look at The Most Important Swim Blog of 2017.

Tarzan swimming aka water polo drill is simply swimming with your head out of the water. This drill is helpful because it is an exaggerated sighting technique. In this drill your whole head comes out of the water (compared with just the eyes when sighting). If on race day you are confronted with choppy conditions you might need to raise more than your eyes out of the water to sight. By placing similar demands on yourself in the pool you will build your stamina for those tougher days in the open water. 

If you struggle with this drill try alternating 10 yards drill/10 yards freestyle or, try using fins or a pull buoy. 

In next week’s blog I will talk about sighting, drafting and crossover.