Preparing for Open Water Swimming in a Pool

Swansea triathlonAs the UWTSD Swansea Triathlon is less than a week away, it’s not a bad idea to up your training and to prepare for the open water swimming in a comfortable, warm pool.  Particularly if you are a newbie, jumping into a large body of water for the first time can be a bit of a shock. So, the team at Sharks Swim Shop in Swansea have compiled some top tips to what you can do in the pool to prepare.

Your open water swimming strokes

It is important to be comfortable with your stroke in open water. Most open water swimmers choose front crawl, so start by making sure yours is up to speed in the pool.

It’s also worth ensuring that you are competent in another stroke, such as breaststroke or backstroke. You may need to recover in open water and breaststroke or sidestroke uses less energy than front crawl.

An open water swim is usually between 450 and 1500 metres so use the pool time to ensure you can confidently swim further than the event you are entering without having to put your feet down.


In the open water there are no lane lines so you need to practice looking ahead during your swim to find a marker in the distance to follow.

Looking up is a simple thing to practice in the pool and you need to practice perfecting it so you don’t disrupt your rhythm.

You should also practise swimming in a straight line. Close your eyes while swimming and see whether you veer left or right (most people do); try tweaking your stroke to straighten your natural line.

Treading water & Turning

There is no wall to hold or kick off from in open water. You should use pool time to get used to treading water in the deep end as you could spend a lot of time treading water in open water.

Most events will involve turning around a marker buoy, often four or five times a race. If you have space in the pool and a willing practice-mate, swim up to and round your friend without touching the walls or bottom of the pool.

Breathing both ways

Breathing on alternative sides in open water events is a necessity. It may not feel natural at first, but focus on your technique in the pool and it will become more comfortable.

Let your head and spine join the rotation of your shoulders, inhale sharply then turn your face smoothly back in time with your shoulder rotation.

Group swimming

Lots of people swimming together can come as a bit of a shock the first time you swim in an open water event. Practise group swimming with four or five of your friends in one lane of the pool to help get used to the feeling.

 Sharks Swim and Tri-Athlon

If you’re still not confident about your open water swim, Sharks Swim and Tri Clubs offer adult swimming lessons designed to help you to improve your style and technique.

They can also supply you with all of the clothing and accessories you need to compete in a triathlon from their Swim Shop in Sketty or from their online shop.


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