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Open Water Swim Tips for Triathletes

Here are a few quick tips for open water swimming! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a shout!

  • Never do an extended open water swim alone. Even the best swimmers in the world succumb to Mother Nature (e.g. Fran Crippen).  DO NOT underestimate the water, it could cost you your life.
  • For an open water swim over an hour, you MUST bring a drink containing electrolytes. I will keep them in the kayak and we will take food and drink breaks. You sweat in the water more than you realize. Dehydration is dangerous in the open water.
  • Please wear a brightly colored swim cap to increase your visibility every time you get into the open water.
  • Swim the tangents, it’s the shortest distance and perfectly legal.
  • Swim in a faster swimmer’s draft, you will expend less energy and be pulled along at a faster pace.
  • Get the jump on the competition with a FAST first 200M. To get above the fray, you HAVE to get a super quick start. A fast 200M will allow you to draft off faster swimmers and avoid having to swim over the top of people.
  • Use baby shampoo as anti-fog.
  • Make sure you use goggles with a wide view lens. It will allow you to see better in the open water. Only wear mirrored goggles in the bright sun. If it’s cloudy, clear or light tint will work best.
  • For in-water chafing use BAG BALM or Aquaphor, it’s what marathon open water swimmers use.
  • Quick backstroke to glance behind you. Without missing a stroke just flip onto your back, take a quick backstroke, look behind you and flip back onto your stomach.
  • If you cannot get out quickly, start on the outside of the pack (NEVER THE INSIDE!). It is dangerous to get caught on the inside of a swimming pack.
  • Don’t panic, flip onto your back and breathe.
  • Don’t follow the crowd, you MUST sight your own line in the water. Other people swim crooked!!!!!!!
  • In a river swim, the fastest water will be in the middle of the channel. Swim as close as you are allowed to the middle of the river. In a river swim if you’re going against the current, swim as close to land as possible. This water will have the least amount of current.
  • Try to swim with a kayak escort or in a group. Stay away from areas with high boat traffic. Like the bicycle, you need to swim defensively. Be aware of your surroundings. It might save your life.

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