How to swim in rough water

After my first outing in the ocean on Monday, I realized that I needed to dust off, not so much my open water swimming technique, as my rough water swimming technique.

Here’s good video that I found that had some great refresher ideas by Coach Leslie Thomas at based out of San Francisco.

So a few points that she makes that I found that I _really_ needed to focus on:

  • Breathing quickly worked better for me…on Monday I was hanging on that breath too much, and throwing off my balance…on Wednesday, a quicker breath kept me in position better…and keeping in a bit of air helped a lot if I missed a breath
  • Sighting quickly…something mentioned in my last post on sighting, but so true…taking a quick look, meant that I sometimes didn’t see anything, or just a glimpse, so I just took a quick look again in a few strokes, and didn’t ‘hang’ on the sighting…my form and momentum died when I took too long to ‘look’
  • Timing the sighting to the waves pattern…something that I was getting better at on Wednesday…helped a ton to get that look at/near the top of a wave…so adjusted my stroke timing slightly when needed to get the timing right on a particular wave as I felt myself being carried up
  • Relaxing the arms…I was much better on Wednesday not ‘fighting’ the wave action, and just going with the natural tossing of the water, working on keeping my arms relaxed…still could have been a lot better
  • A higher stroke rate, kept my momentum a lot better…I found on Monday that when my stroke rate was set at a fast-for-me 1.14 (seconds per stroke), it was a lot easier to keep things together than at 1.26…right now 1.14 is a bit too fast for 2.4 miles, so on Wednesday, I did the first half (35 minutes) of the swim at 1.24, and the second half at 1.20…the 1.20 was sustainable for 25 minutes, so that was very good since that’s my current Ironman race goal rate, and a _lot_ more fluid than even the 1.24
  • Maintaining a stretched out body position…keeping a good extension…with the proper forward lean to keep my legs up, was the most difficult thing for me…better on Wednesday than Monday, but still not where it needs to be…a big part of that is knowing…which I do…that in a forward lean into that balanced position it’s actually easier to get a breath than holding my head higher…even though I ‘feel’ like my head is lower in the water…it’s _really_ believing that in rough, choppy conditions, and practising…a lot…so that it’s second nature…when I held that better position, I was a _lot_ more streamlined, got tossed around less, able to maintain my stroke rate easier…and since I was more relaxed, ‘carried’ by the wave action better, so that breathing was easier

Sadly, I’ll now be back at the pool…I really enjoy the open water swimming so much more…although working on perfecting the form elements that I saw come apart in the rougher conditions, will help me maintain them the next time in the rough stuff

…at least that’s what I’ll be telling myself, following that lane line for 25 yards, wall, turn, repeat, for endless hours…fun right 🙂


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