Swim Straight! When you think about it, everyone swims relatively straight in the pool. Why would it be any different in the open water, you say? Well, the pool has a thick black line on the bottom, lane lines, and angry lane mates working synergistically to keep us on the straight and narrow.
To see how straight you really swim give this a try.
At your next open water workout (within the confines of safety and your swim companions alert to what you are doing) try taking 25 strokes with your eyes closed. Swim straight? If you did not, have no fear most of us don’t. Here are a few tips and drills to getting you back on course, swimming straight.
Typically, the most common cause of swimming off course is having a crossover in your stroke. If one arm is crossing over your centerline you will gradually be pulled in the direction of that arm. Work on your posture and focus on placing your hand in front of your shoulder upon entry and you will begin to swim straighter. Use the Kick on Your Side drill to help keep you swimming in a straight line.
Sighting is a great skill to begin working on in the pool. When sighting, aim to lift just your eyes out of the water to see where you are going. Take a breath of air to the right or left as you would normally do when swimming instead of breathing forward. By lifting just your eyes out of the water you will maintain good body position which will reduce drag and keep you swimming fast.
Practice drafting. It has been shown that swimmers who draft can save anywhere from 11%-38% of their energy expenditure. There are two types of drafting; in-line which is one swimmer stacked behind the other and arrowhead which looks like geese flying south for the winter.
Drafting is easily practiced in the pool. Try this handy in-line drafting set: If you are swimming with two other people, swim directly behind each other and aim to stay in their bubbles. Try to swim as close as you can to the person in front of you without touching their toes. After each 100 switch positions so you can all experience the draft.
Happy open water swimming!