Swimming: How to Swim Straight in Open Water
Swimming: How to Swim Straight in Open Water

Swimming: How to Swim Straight in Open Water

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education Update.com

It's easy to swim the freestyle in a straight line when you're in a pool and have lane lines to follow. But how do open-water swimmers, like triathletes, do it?

Here a few tips.

Alternate Your Breathing
Breathing on only one side may cause a swimmer - over the course of several strokes - to veer towards the left or right. This usually happens because it's more difficult to place the hand correctly for a perfect front-to-back pull when the head is tilted sideways. The result can be a pull that is off-center.

For example, if breathing on the left side, it's common for the left arm to cross too far to the right (past the head) before entering the water, causing the direction of pull to be right-to left. As a result, the swimmer will veer towards the right.

Bilateral breathing can counteract this tendency, but a number of swimmers have difficulty getting enough oxygen when breathing on both sides. If so, have them try different variations of bilateral breathing. For example:

  • Take two breaths on one side, then two on the other.
  • Two breaths on the left and one on the right
  • Three breaths on one side and three on the other.
  • Three breaths on the left and one on the right. You'll have to experiment to see what works best in terms of taking in enough oxygen while staying on line.

Take longer strokes
You can swim straighter by taking longer strokes. The longer the strokes, the fewer the breaths, and the less chance of going off-line.

Minimize Sightings
You will have to occasionally lift your head to see where you are relative to your target , but ?minimize the number of sightings you take. Every time you lift your head to sneak a peak, you interrupt your rhythm and drop your legs deeper into the water, increasing drag forces.


References:
1. Kevin Koskella, Triathlon Swimming Coach, USA, "How Do I Swim Straight in the Open Water?" Your Personal Trainer, April 2007. http://www.pponline.co.uk/prewp/pphome-ypt2.html
2. Yahoo Answers: "I can`t seem to swim straight while swimming front crawl, always veering towards the right. Help needed.?"
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080116040448AAnHq11


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