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How To Do Open Water Swimming

The popularity of open water swimming continues to gain momentum. The water is booming in all the pools and reservoirs of the country. Coaches train, swimmers train, volumes, intervals, equipment, technique… But quite often beginner swimmers and their experienced colleagues from the pool, going to the open water, face a number of problems that in the training process have not mastered and did not understand. To some, it seems insignificant, and some just don’t know very well what open water is and what it’s eaten with.

So today let’s talk about special exercises and workouts for open water that can be done both in the pool and on the water.

What does open water swimming consist of?

Open water swimming has a number of distinctive features. The skills and experience of the swimmer play a special role.

Try, without peeking at our list, to make your own plan of important components for open water and then compare how complete it turned out to be.

Open water swimming consists of:

  • Orientation
  • Breathing
  • The ability to work with the technical/natural features of the course
  • Skills in dealing with opponents and competitors
  • Psychological aspects
  • Performance skills in different weather conditions

Elements of special training can be included in any training session. They do not require much time and fit succinctly into the main task. In short, simple but effective.


The best place to start orienteering training is in the pool during the off-season. To do this, choose two points on different sides of the pool (equipment, clock, etc.) and orient yourself to them (look out of the water) for a given number of strokes.

When moving to open water, find landmarks on the shore. These could be conspicuous trees, houses, bridges, churches, etc.

How many strokes to orienteer depends on different factors. For short distances and beginners, the best option would be to “lookout” for every 3-5 strokes. On longer distances and for experienced swimmers this number would increase to 6-9


For open water, it is very important to be able to breathe on either side. This fact is debatable, but only until the swimmer finds himself in a situation where breathing on his favorite side is not possible.

The main “interfering” force for breathing is the wave. It makes absolutely no difference which side you like to breathe on – it will hit you, cover you, and you will choke.

Second, in open water, there are a lot of factors in which you have to breathe on different sides. When drafting, you have to breathe under the leader, when targeting another swimmer – breathe on his side. Next to you may be an athlete or group, which will make it easier to breathe on the opposite side. You can just rub your neck with a wetsuit, and it will be less painful to turn your head to only one side. And a number of other reasons.

In addition, the more you have an arsenal of breathing (on the sides, on the number of strokes), the easier it will be for you psychologically as well. On long swims sometimes it helps to change the sides of the breath and the number of strokes for mental relaxation.

Practice breathing in the course of normal tasks. To do this, distinguish three types of breathing: on the favorite side, on the unloved side, and on both sides (bilaterally).

Change sides of the breath in every segment (25-100 meters).

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