How Much Time Are You Losing By Not Swimming Straight?

If you are racing in open water this season then right now you are probably swimming regularly in the pool building up your swim specific fitness. You will also be performing a range of technique work designed to refine your individual stroke technique.

That's great. But are you also thinking about your ability to swim straight in open water?

This is important because it's likely that you could gain just as much time from swimming straighter as you can from improving your swim fitness or stroke technique.

Don't believe us? Take a watch of this classic Swim Smooth video from our archives:

Let's say you want to improve your 1500m open water time by 6 minutes - a large increase in speed. It might be possible to improve your stroke technique to the tune of 6 minutes if you did exceptionally well - but it would have to be an exceptional improvement.

You might be able to improve your fitness to swim 6 minutes faster but only if you were coming from a very low fitness level in the first place.

Far more achievable is to split out that 6 minute target into a 2 minute gain from technique, 2 minutes from fitness and 2 minutes from open water skills such as swimming straighter.

And, as Adam said on that archive clip, a key way to improve your ability to swim straight in open water is to breathe bilaterally in the pool when training to progressively make your stroke more symmetrical. And in turn, the key to bilateral breathing is to improve your exhalation technique under the water.

Both of these key skills can be developed using the Guru:

Of course there are other important elements to open water swimming other than swimming straight. Your ability to stay relaxed in close proximity to other swimmers, and draft effectively (which has been shown to save up to 38% of your energy expenditure1) give big gains too. All trainable and all in the Guru of course. :)

Work on those open water skills in the pool now and you will outperform your expectations this summer.

Swim Smooth!

[1] CHATARD, J.-C., and B. WILSON. Drafting Distance in Swimming. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 7, pp. 1176–1181, 2003.


Dan said...

drafting is amazing. did a 6500m OW event last summer and managed to draft 95% of the course. Then, close to the finish, my stupid ego said "this guy is so much slower than me, I can overtake him" so I tried that. Didn't succeed to overtake, pulled so hard that I strained my shoulder and finished 30 seconds behind him...

David Kaufman said...

Sighting properly is also so important for swimming straighter. Being able to sight forward but then continuing to breathe to the side is a great skill to learn.

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