open water swimming mistakes
Credit: James Mitchell
Training > Swim

Open-water swim technique: 11 common mistakes triathletes make

Tri swimming coach Annie Oberlin-Harris explains 11 common mistakes triathletes make in the open water swim and advice on how to correct them

1 Avoiding the plunge

If you’re new to triathlon you’re probably putting off the inevitable, particularly given the low temperatures in the UK this spring. However if you’re entered for triathlon with an open water swim its vital you practice in open water as much as you can prior to race day. You’ll find the environment completely different…there’s no black line to follow and the water can be murky and cold. The sooner you dive in the better so there are no surprises. If you’re really nervous seek a good local coach or club and sign up for a group beginners’ session – you’ll find many people are feeling just the same as you and its really not as bad as you’re dreading!

Prepare to swim in open water for the first time

Essential tips for conquering your first sea swim

Dave Scott on how to swim in open water for the first time and prepare for race day


2 Leaving Open Water swimming skills practice until the season starts

 Did you know there are lots of things you can do in the pool over the winter to keep your open water skills tuned up year round? This includes:

Crocodile Sighting regularly every odd length of your set

Swim along side a buddy Hi Fiving the arms closest to each other with the lane rope between you. It’s a great drill for practicing having a higher swinging arm recovery

In Line (on the toes) or Arrow Head (on the hip) drafting as part of your warm ups/cool downs, taking it in turns to lead/follow/left/right hips. This can also improve your confidence swimming in close proximity to other swimmers.

Mass starts in the pool with a group of buddies or as part of your Club session will help you get used to being around other swimmers in race conditions

I regularly run a wetsuited open water session with my squad throughout the winter and spring months. We remove all the lane ropes and secure orange buoys to float over the flags to mark out a rectangular course in the pool, completing clockwise and anticlockwise loops. The squad always surprise themselves with how rusty they get without this regular practice.

Continue reading our guide to 11 common open-water swim  mistakes (2/4, faults 3-4)


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