How To Swim Straight | Sighting & Stroke Tips For Open Water Swimming

(upbeat music) – Now, if you do all of your swimming in a swimming pool, or the
majority of it at least, and that lean rope and a
trusty black line as a friend, there’s a very good
chance that the last thing you’re thinking about is how
to swim in a straight line. However, if come race day, you don’t want to blindly swim off in
the wrong direction, being able to swim in a straight line is definitely a skill that
you should want to have. So today, I’m going to run
through five simple tips for swimming in a straight line
out there in the open water. (peaceful music) So first things first,
before we get in the water, you need to make sure
your venue is going to be safe for you to do your
open water swimming. So whether you’re at the open beach, a river, or a lake like we are here, just make sure you read any signs, or even have a chat with some locals if it’s a new venue for you. And just double check that
everything is going to be fine. If you’re a little bit unsure, then maybe look for somewhere else. (upbeat music) So tip number one. Now that we’re in the water, we need to find some markers to swim towards to do our straight line swimming. So the first obvious option when we’re somewhere like this is buoys. If you don’t have any buoys, then hopefully there’s some boats. We’ve got some boats in here too. And failing that, if you
don’t have either of those, pick something in the
distance on the horizon that might be a marker. That could be a building,
or even tall, like a crane, or a big tree even, that you can see in a straight line from
where you’re standing. And use that as an object to swim towards. (upbeat music) So tip number two I’m
going to talk about now is in an ideal world, have
somebody come along with you. Now whether that is a coach
if you’re lucky to have that, or even just a friend or a family member, but somebody who doesn’t
get in the water with you, but watches you try and do
this straight line swimming. Because from experience, I know very well that when you’re down in the water, it’s very easy to tell yourself that you’re swimming in a straight line from point to point when
you stop and have a sight or have a look to see where
you’re destination is. But in actual fact, what you’re doing is creating this banana-type shape or a circuitous route that doesn’t get you there in the most direct, straight line. And that person on the
shore will be able to say, no, actually, my
feedback, you did this big banana-type loop to get there, rather than a nice straight line, which
is what we’re trying to do. (upbeat music) Tip number three, and that is sighting. Now this is key to be able to see what it is we are swimming towards. And we do this by lifting our head simultaneously as we’re taking our stroke, rather than turning our
head to take a breath, bringing our eyes,
nose, and mouth up above the water surface, so you can really get a good view of what it is
you’re swimming towards. I aim to do this every
four, five, or six strokes when you’re swimming in the open water. You have to be diligent
with this and just keep repeating that the whole
way through your swim as you get towards the
marker you’re going towards. Now what this will do,
because your head is heavy, the counter is to then drop your legs and make you almost feel like
you’re sinking momentarily, and it does slow you down,
but you’re saving energy here. Because you would use far more energy if you started swimming
off in the wrong direction and not taking that direct line towards the buoy that you’re aiming for. So all in all, I’d say
sighting is a fundamental skill to this straight line
swimming we’re aiming for. (relaxing music) So tip four, and it’s the old adage that practice makes perfect. Now right here in the
lake what I mean by that is finding your buoys, know your marker, that I’ve talked about,
and then simply repeating going backwards and forwards from the buoy that you want to swim
towards, and really getting a feel for swimming
there in a straight line. Think about it as if you’re in the swimming pool and doing a session. You’re more than likely going to do eight or 10 or maybe even 12 times a 50 or 100. Absolutely the same when
you’re in the open water environment, you just
don’t have that black line. And similarly, you need to think about practicing in other environments too. Should your race be in the sea, you’d have to think about
possibly currents and waves. And equally, in a river environment, you’re likely to have a flow in there too. And all of these things
are going to have an impact on how you can steady your
course and swim straight line. So get in and practice in all the different environments that you can. (upbeat music) Tip five, try and swim
in a group environment. Whether that be a club, or even just a group of your friends. Because swimming in a
group is more than likely what’s going to happen when you’re racing, and that’s what you do need to practice your skills of open water
swimming and sighting in. More than likely, you’re
going to want to follow feet, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be swimming in a straight line. That person you’re
swimming behind could well have no open water sighting skills at all. So be confident in your
own spacial awareness and be independent if you have to be. If you feel that they’re
going the wrong way, swim in the direction that you think is going to take you in a straight line. And equally, be mindful of
the fact that most of us, although we like the idea
of bilateral breathing, will likely swim with
one breath to one side or to the other side most of the time. I know I’m guilty of always swimming with my breaths to my right, and that will likely mean that you will pool in one or the other directions. So all of these things are stuff that you have to take into account. And you can only do that by getting in there and swimming with others. So there you go, that is my five tips for open water swimming
in a straight line. And as I’ve said throughout here, it is a key skill to be able to get the most out of your
open water swim session. And in particular, when you go and get yourself on the racecourse. And as a final little bit of fun, we actually got a tip from
Bart Aernouts recently. And he was remembering
when he used to have a swim coach who would say to him, close your eyes and swim for 50 strokes in the direction you think
is where you want to go and see where you end up. I think you might be surprised. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this video. Please hit that thumb up like button. Find the globe on screen to get all the other videos that we do here on G.T.N. And if you want to see a playlist about videos on the open water, including how to sight,
you can find those here.

Comments 21

  • What is your top tip to swimming straight? Let us know!

  • How was the crystal clear Zurich water? 😏

  • Goggles that are appropriate for the environment. It makes sighting easier thus making it easier to swim in a straight(er) line.

  • As a begginer 15 year old triathlete, with an above average running and biking, but an well below average swim, it’s tought for me to win races. But one of my main problems is swimming in a straight line. I will try to aply those tips. Thanks gtn

  • In a race, the buoys are huge, and can be seen a long way off. Where I do Open Water Swimming (OWS) training most often, the buoys are tall, but thin. They are not always easy to see until they are about 100 yards away. For me, the best tactic is to aim at a landmark on the horizon to sight on when my next turn is far away, and then switch my aim to the actual buoy when it is close enough to see clearly. This also allows me to peek my head up for a shorter amount of time, because I am not searching for the aiming stake each time. I peek about every 4th stroke. Peeking more often keeps the corrections smaller. This is especially true when the current is pushing you.

  • When in the pool, swim with your eyes closed and only open when you come up to sight. For open water, try to use the closest possible thing for sighting because if something is too far, you may be swimming to it, but in a huge arc due to water current and/or wind…

  • I find it curious that you suggested getting your mouth and nose out of the water – I never do that unless it's necessary. I lift my head just enough so that I can see (which might get my mouth out as well if it's very choppy) and breathe to the side after. Lifting your head higher than you have to makes your legs sink and slow you down, takes a lot out of you.

  • 50 strokes without sighting. Nice test that I wanna do after my Ironman Italy. Before that I'm afraid to hit the shore or some object and break my hand 😀
    (Very excited to see that Norseman video, that you guys are probably working on.)

  • Ahh, the shame of my swimming life. 😂😂😂 For some reason, people think I'm drunk when I try to freestyle in the pool. And I'm already wearing goggles. 🤣

  • …are you in Zurich???

  • Welcome to Zurich – I was swimming at this spot yesterday 🙂

  • Does anyone find that they sometimes can’t spot a buoy when it’s straight in front of them? Perhaps similar to a blind spot.

  • Hey GTN! I have a question: can you use hydration packs during a triathlon? If so is it worth it? I have a race coming up and it’s really hot where I live so I figured it’d be a good way to have a bit of extra water on me

  • Dude, Sting!

  • OMG you guys! You were in Zurich and I missed you 🙁 great video!

  • The "50 strokes with your eyes closed" is a drill we use at training, especially in the beginner group. most people are slightly off to one side or another. Some people go sharply off to one side, and we have seen some people just swimming in a very tight circle in front of the dock because their stroke is that one sided.

  • How come you were in Zurich? It would have been great to come see web-famouses!

  • yes but how do i change direction when im derailing from my course??

  • I am literally incapable of swimming straight omg hahaha

  • This video is literaly what i needed, i wasn't even finding it, but this appears in recommendations, tnx!!!

  • Ahhh….. Zurich brings such happy memories of such a beautiful city

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