Open water swimming. When you hear these three words, what does it conjure up? Dirty water? Fish [sharks!]? & Drowning!? – hopefully not in that order…!
Well the reality is nothing like this! As someone who does not claim to be a great swimmer, but one who in recent months has spent the majority of time within the relative comforts of the local swimming pool, it was with some trepidation that as the thermometer mercury rose, that I took the plunge to practice open water swimming.
Open water swimming is exactly that – swimming outside, in a water body – a lake, pond, river, sea / ocean [!] – and all I can say is, it is a great experience!
My most local open water swimming venue is at Redricks Lakes, Sawbridgeworth. It is a lovely venue with an on site café, changing blocks, parking and toilets.
The beauty of this venue is that this is also where RGACTIVE provide a fab open-water training and coaching service.
The few times that I went in the 2013 season, the coaching provided by Dave was outstanding – he gave me the confidence, and helped me with my technique in order that I could complete the triathlons that I have done to date.
So, roll on 2 years, and with Staffordshire looming, it was about time I donned the wetsuit, and jumped into the [not so] murky waters for some open-water practice and coaching.
I’ve now been to a few RGACTIVE sessions at Redricks Lakes and under Dermott, Dave & Bretts keen eye I have had the chance to practice a lot of really essential techniques for open-water swimming – at the end of the first session alone I felt, much more confident, and less panicked by the prospect of open-water swimming – and I must say, I actually exited the water with a big sh*t-eating grin – and no, before you ask, it wasn’t goose poo…!
The thing about the RGACTIVE guys is – firstly, they are all great bunch of guys which makes for a very relaxed informative session; but I suppose more importantly they know their stuff. In the sessions that I have been to, I have picked up some great tips about [but of course not limited to]:
- Breathing [!]
- One sided
- Left hand side
- Right hand side
- Bilateral [both]
- Sighting [no lane markers, no lines, no ropes = not likely to swim in a straight line – ie. why swim 2000m, when you could swim 1900m!]
- Water Polo
- Optimum body position
- Flat in the water
- Head down to bring the body position up to reduce drag
- Tuck chin under [as above]
- Optimum stroke
- Freestyle / front-crawl
- Breaststroke – not ideal, as head up & body position drops causing drag = slows you down.
- Deep water starts
- swimming directly behind, or to the side of and behind, another swimmer
- Group swimming
Don’t get me wrong, pool swimming is a great form of exercise and training in the months leading up to the open-water season, however, in preparation for any triathlon or open-water swimming event, open-water swimming is where it is at.
Anyhow – just wanted to give a quick shout out to the awesome RGACTIVE guys – and also to say – if you haven’t gone open-water swimming before your event – or are scared of open-water swimming – just do it, you’ll love it!!*
*but just mind out for the goose poo.