Some drills you should know before heading out for open water swimming
After watching and understanding the drills we can handle open water swimming better, having full control of our body, and enjoying swimming in the ocean. Having a full control of our body will also speed up our swimming.
A very important principle of WEST swimming is ‘becoming one’ with the water, being a harmonic part of the water flow. We cannot emphasize it enough, especially when it comes to open water. The ocean is much stronger than we are. It can hit us pretty hard, so you have to make friends with it, understand it, and most importantly, swim with it and not against it. Enjoy!
1. Running in the water- we distinguish running as a part of a race, where the swimmer runs till water reaches knee height and then dive in, from running in deeper water, with arm pulling to help us move forward. We practice running in 1 meter deep water with keeping balance, avoiding slipping, and maintaining a quick pace. Usually we run in the water as part of swimming, unless it is rehabilitation.
2. Dolphin jumps- start jumping when the water reaches you knees. We stand up, jump in in a stream line to the bottom of the ocean/pool (when practicing in a pool), push your body forward, nice and easy with your arms. Then stand up with your legs 10-20cm apart from each other and jump again. Repeat so till water reaches as high as your hip, then you can go ahead and start swimming. Dolphin jumping is a great way to get through the waves. When you hit waves try to jump before it breaks.
3. Dolphin jumping with spreading your legs- it is the same as the previous one, only this time we stand up with one leg in front and one leg back. It comes handy when current is aggressive and we try to stabilize ourselves before our next jump.
4. Dolphin jumping with underwater pulling- we pull underwater to get trough bigger waves. Sometime dolphin jumping on its own isn’t enough so we add arm pulling under the wave, to pull you right up and ready for your next jump.
5. Swimming with your head out- it is very important we know how to swim ‘open water head’- arms keep pulling in shoulder width, and our head is between them, with our chin touches the water (being out of the water). If done for not too long, just enough to see our swimming direction, it shouldn’t create extra tension on our neck and back. Make sure you keep your stream line and tempo. You cannot have your head movement getting you off balance or tempo.
Many swimmers go breastroke every once in a while. It breaks their rhythm, and introduces a complete new muscle group, which with time can depletes energy reserve.
6. Upfront looking and breathing sidewise- this is the most important open water drill. We need to learn space orientation via sidewise and not front breathing. Front breathing puts lots of tension on our neck and scapulas, as well as shortens our stroke and lactates us out faster. When we look forward and breath sidewise at the same time, we maintain our harmonic continuous flow with the water and avoid neck injuries.
Usually we recommend breathing every 2 strokes, so you can see the buoy as quick as possible and then go on with normal swimming.