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Safety first in open water swimming

Having a safe, enjoyable open water swim is the perfect start to any triathlon. At my recent open water swim clinic at 288 Lake in Houston we focused on 5 key skills to ensure a stress free swim:

1. Seed yourself to the back of the pack at the start, giving yourself plenty of room to get the event underway without entering the washing machine at the front. That's unless you are a super competitive swim jock or water polo player who likes to mix it up with some rough stuff.

2. Take breaths on alternate sides, left and right, on a 5/5 or 10/10 routine to even out your stroke pattern and keep in a straight line. Breathe to one side if you need to avoid a heavy chop, wind or sunlight.

3. Sight every 10 strokes at first to check if you are on line. Just raise your head enough to get a view forward, without standing up in the water. Take 3 brief looks to check if you are on line and adjust course if necessary. Sight every 20 or more strokes if you are managing to stay on course.

4. Take a wide turn at the buoys, about a body length, and keep a

steady pace as you make your way around. Avoid getting into the log jam with other swimmers at this point. If its a long swim, maybe take a quick break to get your bearings before heading on to the next marker.

5. If you are comfortable swimming close to others, then tuck in to the wake of a nearby swimmer and catch a draft, just off to the left or right of their stern. You need to be within an arms length of the other swimmer to get a good draft, but avoid getting too close and interfering with their stroke.

If you try these skills at your local lake or beach, you are sure to have a safer and more enjoyable open water experience. Contact me if you need more help.

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