You would think it was... and yet take a look at this time-accelerated footage we shot at the Busselton 70.3 triathlon :
You've probably stood on the shore and watched swimmers at numerous races yourself but it's only when you accelerate the footage like this that you see what is truly going on and how swimmers are adding many hundreds of meters to their swims by constantly going off course.
Are you doing this? If you struggle to transfer your pool times across to open water or have a bad race performance and are not sure why, this is almost certainly the reason. This footage was shot in perfect conditions but if the water is rougher or sighting is more difficult, things get a lot worse and more and more swimmers fall foul of this problem.
Always Keep Open Water Skills In Mind
If you've read our new book you'll understand how highly we value open water skills, such as the ability to swim in a straight line. It's all very well focusing on improving your stroke technique in the pool, perhaps chipping a few minutes off your 1500m time but if you then give away five minutes by constantly moving off course in an open water race what's the point?
That's why we strongly recommend that you keep practising your open water skills all year round, working on techniques such as the ability to swim straight, sighting efficiently and drafting confidently in the pool over the winter. These skills can improve your swim splits by 1, 2, 5 or even 10 minutes per km in extreme cases.
Many swimmers (and coaches) tell themselves "swimming is all about technique" but the truth is that there are many things that constitute great technique. Pacing yourself well, drafting effectively, sighting efficiently and swimming straight without a black line on the bottom of the pool are all critical aspects of great technique. And they are worth just as much time for your race performances too.
PS. If you're an open water or triathlon coach, please forward this to your athletes to watch.