Open water swimming - strategy

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Tom Kuch » Thu, 03 Sep 1992 03:45:14


I've been involved in a masters swim program this summer, in training
for my first triathlon in a few weeks.  Although I feel really
comfortable swimming in a pool, I have virtually no experience in open
water swims, let alone a couple dozen people around me. Can the experts
here give some advice to a novice?  

For the past few weeks I've been swimming in a large pond (Walden
Pond, for those familiar with the area). I have two questions from
this experience:

        1) I have problems maintaining a direction.  I think this may
           not be a problem in the actual race, since the course will
           be marked and I can see where others are going. Am I correct?

        2) Although Walden Pond has very little current to speak of,
           how does one deal with currents and wind, for that matter,
           in a plan of attack and pacing?

These questions concern me now. Since I have not actually competed
in a race, there may be other issues I should be considering. Again,
any help is appreciated.

--
Tom Kuchar                        

Department of Astronomy                              Phillips Laboratory/GPOB
Boston Univerity                                                  Hanscom AFB

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Don Palmro » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 03:12:19

Quote:

> I've been involved in a masters swim program this summer, in training
> for my first triathlon in a few weeks.  Although I feel really
> comfortable swimming in a pool, I have virtually no experience in open
> water swims, let alone a couple dozen people around me. Can the experts
> here give some advice to a novice?  

> For the past few weeks I've been swimming in a large pond (Walden
> Pond, for those familiar with the area). I have two questions from
> this experience:

>    1) I have problems maintaining a direction.  I think this may
>            not be a problem in the actual race, since the course will
>            be marked and I can see where others are going. Am I correct?

Not really, this is true if there are lots of bouys on the course that are
big and most races do not have enough time or money to do that way.  Also
your goggles (at least for me) tend to either leak water or fog up so I
cannot see anything detailed for 10 yards.

What I have done that seems to work is to pick a distant landmark that I can
distinguish through my fogged goggles which is in line with the swim path
I want to follow.  Ideally, if you can pick two, with one in the forground
and the other behind it you can tell if you are going off course.  This is
a seamanship trick when bring a ship down a channel.  For example, as long
as the two line up, you are on-course.  If the bottom landmark is to the
right of the other, you are left of your course.  Vise versa, if the bottom
is to the left, you have drifted to the right of your course.  Obviously, the
trick here is to be able to pick the proper landmarks that can be seen as
you swim through the waves, look into the sun, AND line up with the swim
course.  ;-)

Quote:
>    2) Although Walden Pond has very little current to speak of,
>       how does one deal with currents and wind, for that matter,
>       in a plan of attack and pacing?

You hope that the race director(s) set out the swim course properly so that
these are not a problem.  Current only comes into effect on ocean swims (I
have not heard of a swim course going upstream of a river) and has caused
major problems in some past races.  Because you are at the water surface,
I hope that the wind is not strong enough for it to affect you directly.  What
it will do is to increase the wave size and frequency which will give you
problems breathing (sucking down water as you try to breath when a wave hits
your face is not fun).  There are techniques to overcome this, mainly (I
believe) by timing your breathing and checking your course so it coincides at
the creast of the waves.

My biggest problem has been other swimmers who will not yield or move around
you as they pass you.  I have actually had to crawl over some guy's back
because he kept drifting to the right and was about to dunk me due to his
actions.  For the first time, I stayed to the outside to minimize my contact
with other swimmers.  This lenghtened my distance but I survived without
loosing my goggles or from being hit by faster swimmers.

Quote:
> These questions concern me now. Since I have not actually competed
> in a race, there may be other issues I should be considering. Again,
> any help is appreciated.

> --
> Tom Kuchar                  

> Department of Astronomy                                 Phillips Laboratory/GPOB
> Boston Univerity                                             Hanscom AFB

There should be some sort of triathlon club nearby (I hope) with people who
generally are quite willing to lend advise.  Check through the local sporting
goods stores that seem to cater to triathletes for information.

Good luck.

Don Palmrose

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Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Robert W. Bra » Sun, 06 Sep 1992 00:14:08

[some open water racing questions]

[lots of good advice on open water swimming]

Quote:
>My biggest problem has been other swimmers who will not yield or move around
>you as they pass you.  I have actually had to crawl over some guy's back
>because he kept drifting to the right and was about to dunk me due to his
>actions.  For the first time, I stayed to the outside to minimize my contact
>with other swimmers.  This lenghtened my distance but I survived without
>loosing my goggles or from being hit by faster swimmers.

I agree that this is the biggest thing to be concerned about, especially near
the first part of the swim in tris that start people in bigger waves, maybe
~100+ people.  Expecting to swim over or get swam over and possibly taking
measures like Don suggests to avoid it can help someone who's trying to gain
confidence in an open water race.  Soon you can be plowing through flailing
arms and legs working towards an open piece of water and latching on to the
aqua-slipstream of some guy named Gunther, to be towed through the course in
record time.

Best of luck in the tri, Tom.

                                  Bob

--
Bob Brand