Open Water Swimming Skills Session 3: Breathing and Sighting

Teaching Point
Each part of this mainset has an Open Water theme that will bring something to your skill set on race day, enabling you to overcome many issues that might arise.

1. Breathing Pattern Practice
6-12 lengths front crawl swum as one length breathing to the left, one length breathing to the right, and lengths three and four breathing bilaterally (every third stroke)

On Race Day, you will possibly feel more comfortable breathing every second stroke. If you feel you just cannot breathe to your weak side, try the Torpedo and Extension drills to help balance your rotation. Both will help improve your ability to switch breathing sides. If you could choose the side you breathe to as conditions dictate, then you would be at a great advantage over your competitors. Those who have not practiced will be stuck breathing into the flailing arm of a competitor, or looking straight into the sun or surf.

2. Breath Holding
6-12 lengths front crawl swum as no breathers once the lane rope turns too red at both ends (on the way into the wall and on the way out, i.e. 5-7 secs of breath holding at the end of each length).

This may not have happened yet but it might and it would be ideal not to be panicked when it does. During periods of congestion at the start or around a turn you may not be in a position to get a breath in when it suits. A few seconds of breath holding will help you ride this time out.

3. No Rest Swim
6-12 lengths front crawl swum continuously, no touching the wall. As soon as your lane ropes change too red, loop through in front of the wall to simulate a long continuous swim with no hanging on and resting.

4. Sighting
6-12 lengths swum as seven strokes powerful front crawl then relax into two easy and pop up to sight forwards. Just the eyes above the surface. Is there a clock or similar hanging on the wall you can make use of to ‘sight’?

Don’t waste time or energy lifting the whole head up and simultaneously breathing. You should practice getting your breath in during your normal strokes and using the sighting strokes to sight.

5. Relaxing and Goggle Emptying
6-12 lengths swum as seven strokes front crawl, then roll into an exaggerated Extension position facing up, lead arm outstretched. Use this time to catch your breath, take advantage of the buoyancy of the wetsuit, and relax for a moment, as you catch your breath and steady your nerves after any minor altercation in the swim!

Both arms/hands can be used to come to the face and make any modifications to your goggles if they have been knocked.

Novice: 750m (25m pool)

Intermediate: 1500m (25m pool)


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