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What can I practice in the pool to get ready for open water swimming?

Many of us don’t have access to open water swimming year round, so we have to resort to pool swimming much of the time, even if all of our racing happens in open water. There are still a few things you can do during pool swimming to help your open water swim technique when you find yourself in a new venue without a black line painted on the bottom, or a wall to rest on. Practice bi-lateral breathing. It is imperative that you can breathe to both sides. While we all have a preferred side, it is best to be able to breathe comfortably on both sides, just in case there is a strong surf or wind coming from the side you prefer to breathe on. You will be unable to take a breath without accompanied splash and that is never fun. So get comfortable on both sides. This will not only help your pool swimming, it is a must in open water swimming. Practice sighting at least once per length. There is not a black line to keep you swimming straight when you are outside. So get used to focusing your gaze on a landmark in front of you so you can correct your course if necessary. Try swimming with your eyes closed. See how good you are at swimming in a straight line in a controlled environment. Be careful to not swim into the wall though, so it’s okay to peek if you think you may be getting close to the edge. If you notice that you often veer to the right, work on straightening out your stroke to the left. If you notice that you veer to the left, try powering the right pull a little hard to swim in a straighter line. Remember the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The fastest swim split will result from the most direct course a swimmer takes. Practice makes perfect. So even if you are not able to swim outside all the time, you can still work to improve your open water swimming in a pool environment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.