Swim sighting: What are the most common mistakes people make?

John Wood explains the most common open-water swim-sighting mistakes triathletes make and how to put them right


Open water can be tough, especially when you can’t see where you’re heading. One mistake that people often make is sighting too often. If you’re lifting your head every couple of strokes, this will make your hips drop and maintaining pace more difficult for you.


If you find you’re sighting too often, trust yourself to swim straighter or you may need to balance up your stroke more so that you can swim in more of a straight line. You shouldn’t need to sight more than once every 10-12 strokes.

Another issue with sighting is spending too long with your head out of the water. This might be because of a lack of confidence or you’re unable to fix on a point in front of you. The best way to practise this is in the pool, lifting your head for one stroke at a time and focusing your eyes on a point in front of you – it might be your bottle on the side for example. The quicker you can focus on where you’re going, the quicker you can get your head down and maintain your momentum.

The final issue people have is moving their head around too much. I coach newer swimmers to push their chin straight forward, lifting their head straight up, and then to come straight back down – it means that you’re more likely to maintain a straight body, and as a result stay on the course that you intended.