Four Reasons to Make Open Water Swimming a Part of your Triathlon Training


Posted by Coach John Murray

For many triathletes, open water swimming only happens on race day. This can lead to a less-than-optimal performance and may even cause doubt and anxiety as you prepare to start your race. We encourage athletes to make their best effort to swim in open water regularly. Plan it with either with a group or one of your training partners and work on the areas that will benefit not only your swim but the rest of your race. 

Here are four reasons why I believe you should consider open water swimming as a regular part of your training:

  1. Become comfortable in the open water- for some, the thought of being away from shore in twenty feet of water causes some element of anxiety. Although an athlete can swim 10 minutes or more non-stop in a pool, they become nervous and anxious in a lake, river or the ocean. Repeated exposure to open water swimming will give athletes a sense of confidence and allows them to be comfortable even when they can't see the bottom.
  2. Sighting and Navigating- we can teach this skill in the classroom setting and practice this in the pool, but the real growth in this skill takes place in the open water. Through repetition in several different types of conditions the skill of swimming straight will be mastered.
  3. Open water effort level- pacing yourself in the pool is a skill you should be working on regularly. However, without the smooth water and walls of the pool it can be a challenge to find that perfect pace. Some of our open water swimming can be simply familiarization but consider focusing on some pacing drills from time to time.
  4. Learning different stroke techniques for changing conditions- We may show up to a race next month and see choppy, white-capped water conditions. If the race director feels it's safe to swim, you will jump in confidently because you have practiced in the same conditions. Adjusting your stroke for those wavy, choppy conditions is developed through spending time in the rough water.


Rehearsing your race day swim will reap benefits for your confidence, race enjoyment and overall performance!

Remember to include safety as your number one priority when practicing in the open water. Swim with a group if possible. Never swim alone. Avoid busy boating or jet-skiing areas and always wear a brightly-colored cap.


(For those in the Pensacola Beach area, join us for the weekly Thursday Morning I Hate Open Water Swims presented by Zarzaur Law, beginning April 28 and going through October. See the full photo album on Facebook.) 


~ Coach John Murray

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