Improve your breathing in open water swimming

Breathing in open water swimming is different than in a swimming pool. And the technique is vital to master to do well in your next Masters open water competition.

When swimming in open water, the water can often be choppy or wavy which makes regular bilateral breathing difficult.

Try these tips to improve your breathing in open water swimming:

  1. When the water is choppy or wavy, turn your head away from waves or breathe the same way as the wind is blowing rather than into it. This will help you breathe more smoothly and successfully.
  2. If the waves or chop is higher than normal, turn your head further and, if you need to, lift it slightly to give yourself the best chance of taking a full, clean breath.

Open Water Training Session

It’s time to get in some further open water training sessions. Use a local facility and never train by yourself in the open water environment.

By their very nature, mass participants are close proximity races, and while you can isolate yourself to an extent, there will be points during the race where it is inevitable, such as starts, turns and finishes.

While you are training in the open water, try and get used to swimming in different parts of the pack. Some will love the rough and tumble of the middle of the pack, some will like to lead, some will like to be towards the back. It’s a personal preference which can change as you become more experienced in the art of open water swimming.

Some of the advantages and disadvantages to all the pack positions are listed below.

  • Leading the race

This will expend more energy than being in the pack, especially if it’s quite choppy. However, swimming at the front means you are able to dictate the pace and direction of the pack.

  • Swimming in the middle of the pack

You will be able to get an easier ‘ride’ due to the drafting effect and not having to cope with the choppy conditions. However, you will have to cope with the close proximity of other swimmers and the physical side that it brings, which can cause an increase in fatigue.

  • Swimming in a line

When swimmers string out and swim in one line, you can draft off others without the challenge of swimming in a pack.

Try to be towards the front of the line because the distance from the front to the last swimmer could be as long as 50m and it will take more energy and speed to get to the front.