Open-Water Navigation

Open-Water Navigation

Have you ever done an open-water swim before? If yes then you know what I am talking about when I say that those big turn buoys you easily see from the shore, are not so easy to see when you’re swimming at water level. Hopefully you have great eyesight and anti-fog goggles; otherwise you could be in for a tough time. However there is hope! You can practice some drills in the pool and in the open-water in order to improve the “navigation” during your race.

Remember when you compete in the open water, you don’t have lane ropes or that solid black line on the bottom of the pool to follow. And you certainly cannot rely on the swimmer in front of you either, as they may be plotting an inaccurate course themselves. The best solution is to lift your head while swimming, and navigate for yourself.

    Water Polo Swimming Drill:
    Keep the head out of the water while still swimming in a forward direction (just like a water polo player). Add in a few repeats of this drill during each swim session to allow you to develop this style of swimming. Don’t do more than 400m of this drill per session.

Lifting the head out the water requires extra effort in the neck, arms, back, and legs. The arms and elbows tend to drop while in this position, so you will need to continually practice this drill to gain strength. Weaker swimmers and those with a bad sense of direction tend to stop during their race, lookup to find their direction, and then continue on. This process is slow as it breaks your rhythm, stops any forward momentum, and ultimately keeps you from progressing to the next performance level.

Do the Water Polo swimming drill three times per week for the next month, and I guarantee you that you will swim straighter lines out in the open water and your swims will improve.

- Glen Gore (guest blogger)