Improve Your TechniqueYou’re likely to be swimming long distance, so it is vital that you’re confident in your stroke. Front crawl (or freestyle) is the most popular stroke for open water swimmers, so start by making sure that yours is the best it can be. Start counting the number of strokes it takes you to complete a length, and aim to reduce that without reducing your speed. You can find tips on perfecting your freestyle stroke here.
Train for the DistanceAs well as being able to swim well, you need to also be able to swim the complete distance itself without putting your feet down. If you know that you can’t do it now, you need to build yourself up gradually until you’re at a point where you can before you even attempt an open water swim. You should be able to swim further than your open water distance in the pool.
SightingThis is a technique designed to keep you on track. With your head in the water, you might find that you veer off course. So, to sight yourself, all you have to do is to find a marker in the distance and keep looking up to make sure you’re swimming towards it. This is an easy thing to practice in the pool, so try and perfect it so you don’t disrupt your rhythm.
TurningWhile you might veer naturally, open water races often involves turning around marker buoys, sometimes four or five times. If you can, practice turning around in the pool without touching the bottom or the walls.
Group SwimmingGroup swimming can be a terrifying experience. With hundreds of other people around you, limbs are everywhere. You can practice group swimming with four or five of your friends in one lane in the pool, but if you’re still unsure, try to stick to the outside of the pack at the actual event.
The GearGetting your gear right is a crucial part to open water swimming. If your goggles steam up or your wetsuit is too tight, then it isn’t going to help your nerves. Make sure you test all your gear before race day.