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How to practise open water sighting

Open water sighting practice is really useful if you’re planning to swim your best at a Masters open water competition.

This article deals with improving your open water sighting.

Practise open water sighting

It may not surprise you but for an open water swim, you won’t be able to see the bottom of the lake…. and you can forget about swimming in your own ‘lane’.

So without ropes and lane lines, you will need to learn ‘open water sighting’ where you look ahead of yourself during your swim to find a marker in the distance then keep looking up to make sure you’re heading towards it.

Take these three steps to practise open water sighting:

  1. Swim with normal front crawl breathing, but instead of turning your head to the side to breath, lift your head up, take your breath, sight, then continue turning your head to side until it is back in the water.
  2. Start by repeating lifting your head to sight like this every couple of strokes.
  3. As you become more comfortable, increase the number of strokes with your head in the water and decrease the amount of sighting required.

The advantage of this method is you will remain in a streamlined position whilst still being able to sight, saving energy and increasing your efficiency.

Occasionally – for example, if the water is quite choppy – you might need to sight for longer than with the above method. If this is the case, use the ‘water polo style’ of sighting.

  1. Take six strokes with your head in the water with normal front crawl breathing as described in the pool training tips.
  2. Then take four strokes with your head facing forward out of the water ‘water polo style’, keeping your head still. By lifting your head, your hips will drop and your stroke length will decrease. Help to offset this by slightly increasing the rate of your leg kick.
  3. As you become more comfortable with this drill, increase the number of strokes that your head is in the water to eight and decrease the number of strokes that your head is out of the water to two.

Pool training session

Practise open water sighting in the pool with this 2 km training session.

Warm up

  • 600 metres continuous swim as 200 metres front crawl, 100 metres backstroke, 100 metres front crawl kick and 200 metres front crawl.

Main set

  • 400 metres front crawl descending in time. Start with 100 metres at steady pace and increase pace for each 100 metres.
  • 8×25 metres front crawl kick descending in time. Go from steady to strong on the last 25 metres.
  • 400 metres front crawl descending in time. Repeat of the first part of main set.
  • Sight once or twice every 100 metres.

Swim down / recovery swim

  • 400 metres using your choice of strokes and / or kick. Keep a steady to easy pace for this.

Total distance: 2000 metres