Changing technique between pool and open water

by Andrew Mackay

Arm Turnover – is important in the water as a slow arm turnover gives the open water elements the opportunity to move you in the direction it wants you to. If you can maintain the turnover through each arm stroke you will maintain better forward momentum and minimise your displacement.

Ability to adjust/adapt – in the pool environment you can almost guarantee that every time you take a stroke that you will be able to go through the same technique – your ‘perfect’ technique can be applied stroke after stroke. In the open water a swimmer has to roll and adapt to undulations of the waves and chop.

Breathing pattern – you may turn your head to breath and find a wave in your face so you have to put your head back down and breath a stroke or two later. Keep relaxed and you will be able to do this and ensure that you have a very controlled exhalation and inhalation as a rapid breathing technique will not keep you relaxed – learn more

Stroke pattern – bigger waves or a swell in the water may require you to pause your stroke until you drop back into the water and continue swimming (probably most relevant for the Sand to Surf event). Smaller chop or waves coming toward you may require you to punch through the water – so keep your stroke relaxed so you can easily adapt to the environment that you are in at that time.

‘Zen Swimming’ – getting a feel for the environment can also play a part in your swimming experience – the more you practice safely in a variety of conditions, the more at one you will become with the water – you then stop fighting the water but you relax and settle into what you can control. For example, if you feel the water lifting, you can then pick up the stroke rate and kick (which can help you to gain forward momentum) and then relax and settle into your stroke pattern as you drop off the back of the swell/wave.

Have a read of Jon Muller’s “The Zen of Swimming” which is a quick read for people wanting to learn more about swimming and provides a great overview of swimming, helpful tips and insights to an enjoyable swimming experience.

As Jon says “Having fun is a vital component of success in any sport” so get out there enjoy the open water and have fun practicing these techniques, and then utilise the Banana Boat NZ Ocean Swims to challenge yourself to do the best that you can on the day.


This Swim Tip has been created by the experts at Boast Coaching


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