If you haven’t yet experienced the thrill of open water swimming, you’re in for an adventure! While the basics of your stroke remain the same, the dam is going to bring you challenges that you’ve never had to face in the pool – and with these challenges comes a whole new approach to the water. Here’s what you need to know.
Currents and waves
Open water isn’t flat like a swimming pool is – you’re going to encounter some waves, especially if your event is later in the day on aQuellé Midmar Mile weekend. The biggest thing to remember here is not to panic – slow down if you need to and don’t ever try to fight the water. One of the best things to do in your training to prepare for this is to learn bilateral breathing – that is, how to breathe on both your left and your right.
Arms and legs everywhere
If you’ve been training in the pool, chances are you’ve had a lane to yourself. In open water, you could find yourself in the middle of a throng of swimmers. You can avoid this by hanging back for a few seconds at the start of your race or by swimming slightly to the left or the right of the pack. That bilateral breathing we talked about earlier will be helpful in this situation – if there’s a swimmer directly to your left, you can lift your head to the right to breathe. The most important thing is to not panic – so practise breathing in every time you lift your head and blowing out bubbles while your head is in the water. This simple action of concentrating on your breathing may help you to stay calm.
Nowhere to put your feet down
If you get tired in a swimming pool, the solution is simple – just put your feet down or swim to the edge and hold on. Open water will generally be far too deep for you to put your feet down and, of course, there’s nothing to hold on to. To prepare yourself for this, give yourself lots of practice at treading water and remember, you can always raise your hand to ask a lifeguard for assistance if you need to.
No kick off
When you’re swimming laps in the pool, you can give yourself a nice head start on every lap by kicking off from the wall – but there are no walls in open water swimming. When you’re training, make the pause between your laps as short as possible and don’t kick off.
Open water transforms swimming from mere exercise to an adventure. Make the commitment to a healthier you and get your entry in for the aQuellé Midmar Mile 2020!