This is your first open water swim event, you may not have had the time to practice as much as you may have liked to in open water, but there is still plenty you can do to minimise your stress and increase your performance and enjoyment on the day.

Follow these 3 essential tips for your first open water swim event...


1. Do your homework

Nothing pulls a punch like being thoroughly prepared.

Being prepared will help you take control of the situation and ensure you have fewer things to worry about and you are more likely to arrive in a relaxed state.

Check out the travel route to the swim event, consider traffic and parking arrangements. Ensure you know the registration and start times. Check the event instructions and concerning rules etc.

Check your swim kit, take spares of items that can snap or are easily lost e.g. goggles

Get to the event with plenty of time to check out the course, walk or swim around the course if possible.

The Start of your open Water swim event

2. Take control of your Start

Planning your start should be part of your open water swim race tactics. Think where you are going to place yourself, the middle of the start line with a direct line to the first buoy maybe the shorter route but, with everyone hustling for this position, it is not necessarily the fastest. Out on the side you may have more room for manoeuvre and possibly catch a draft (see Drafting) from the faster pack.

At the start of a race panic can overtake us; we can lose control of our swim form, rhythm, style and in some cases, even our senses. Don't let this happen to you by taking control of your swim start.

Forget about others around you and focus on you. You can control intrinsic factors such as breathing and arm pull or hand placmentment, so focus yourself on these.

Holding your breath can cause a feeling of anxiety, don't hold your breath and instead breath out continuously, nice and steady.

Focus on your hand and how it enters the water or the 'pull' of your forearm. Whichever you chose keep focused and keep steady breathing and soon those first few minutes of the race will have gone and those around you will be starting to calm down.

sighting in open water swimming

3. Swim Straight, Sight Often

When there are no lane markers to follow, swimmers in open water tend to find themselves going adrift. Swimming off towards one side is not an uncommon problem in open water swimming but not swimming in a straight line loses you time and constantly swimming back in line costs you precious energy.

Sighting is essentially looking for an obvious landmark or buoy and using that feature as a guide to keep you swimming straight towards it. To do this you need to lift your head regularly to check you have not gone adrift or started heading off at right angles, it happens!

Lifting your head to 'sight' can slow you down, this is because as you lift your head your body sinks and causes drag in the water therefore slowing you down.

However the flip side is that you can lose even more precious time and energy by frequently going off course and having to swim back. So sight on your marker and swim too it regularly checking you are. If you can try to lift your eyes out of the water just enough to see and put your head back down, therefore minimising the drag.

And couple of extra words of advice; enjoy it and next time ... prepare for your open water swim event.

enjoy your open water swim event

Have a great swim.

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