Open water swimming offers a unique set of challenges compared to pool swimming. One crucial skill to develop is sighting – the ability to navigate effectively without the aid of pool lanes. In this guide, we’ll explore essential sighting techniques to enhance your open water performance.

Coach Mandy demonstrating sighting techniques for open water swims

The Importance of Sighting:

Sighting is the key to maintaining direction and avoiding unnecessary detours during an open water swim. Proper technique ensures you stay on course, conserving energy and improving your overall race time.

1. Scoop Forward and Look:

As you prepare to enter the water, focus on a smooth transition. Rather than over-lifting your head, initiate a gentle scoop forward to keep your body streamlined. This allows you to effortlessly spot landmarks or buoys, which will serve as crucial reference points throughout your swim. Remember, it’s essential to maintain consistency in this movement – regularly checking your course ensures you stay on track.

2. Master the Bilateral Breathing Technique:

Bilateral breathing (alternating breathing on both sides) allows you to sight without disrupting your stroke rhythm. Practice this technique in the pool to build confidence and improve your sighting ability.

3. Use the "Roll and Blink" Method:

As you roll to take a breath, quickly blink your eyes to catch a glimpse of your surroundings. This seamless motion minimizes resistance and helps maintain your momentum.

4. Find a Rhythm:

Establish a sighting rhythm that complements your stroke. This might involve sighting every 6-8 strokes, depending on your comfort level. Consistency in your approach will build confidence and efficiency.

Dedicated team of open water swimmers perfecting sighting techniques for open water swims together

5. Practice in the Pool:

Before venturing into open water, hone your sighting skills in a controlled environment. Here are some key benefits:

Elimination of Distractions:

In a pool, you have the advantage of removing external factors like choppy water and unpredictable conditions. This allows you to focus solely on perfecting your technique.

Coach Mandy from SWIMVICE perfecting sighting techniques for open water swims

Repetition with Variations:

In a controlled environment, you can repeat sighting exercises with different combinations, allowing for a more comprehensive learning experience.

Translating Skills to Open Water:

The more you practice in a pool, the easier it becomes to translate those skills into open water. Solidifying your technique in a controlled environment provides a strong foundation for tackling less predictable conditions.

Emphasis on Form:

When your form is executed well, the need for frequent sighting diminishes. A streamlined technique enables you to swim straight, reducing the frequency of necessary course corrections.

Efficient Sighting Technique:

When sighting, take a quick snapshot of the reference point. Choose something with clear contrast and formulate the visual in your mind when your head is down. This minimizes disruptions to your stroke and maintains your forward momentum.

Seize the Open Water with Confidence

With dedication and practice, mastering sighting techniques can significantly enhance your open water swimming experience. If you’re eager to refine your skills further or seek personalized coaching, we’re here to help.

Book a Free Consultation for Online and In-Person Coaching

Coach Mandy offers exclusive in-person and online coaching packages designed to elevate your open water performance. With expertise in all four strokes, book a consultation today and experience personalized guidance crafted for your success. If you prefer online courses, you can join the SWIMVICE freestyle program today!

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