Open water swimming can present more challenges than just a regular swim in the pool. It's important to modify your technique and training to help you work with the many obstacles that come with swimming in currents and choppy water.
Steve Munatones is a swim coach and owner of openwatersource.com. He spends his days swimming and coaching open water swimming and knows just about everything there is to know about the sport and how to be successful in it.
If you're transitioning from the pool to open water, his open water swimming tips are a great place to start.
Focus on a Balanced Body
In open water, your environment is going to be anything but balanced. There are currents, waves and choppy waters so you need balance and to have a nice even stroke.
"The most difficult thing for most new swimmers to do is to swim straight in the open water. This means that your propulsion from both your right arm and left should be equal," Munatones says. "While bilateral breathing is not an absolute requirement, it does help create a balanced stroke that enables you to swim straight when there are no lines, lanes or walls."
Munatones also cautions against the crossover kick many swimmers seem to develop. It causes swimmers to veer to the right or the left, wasting energy in open water.
To avoid this, pay attention to your kick as you practice in the pool and work to make it even. Focus on preventing your legs from crossing over one another as you rotate to breathe.
Keep a Look Out
While a head-down stroke is great in the pool, open water swimming doesn't allow for the same visibility. Modify your stroke in order to see where you're going and keep an eye on those around you in races.