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open water swimming

i did my first open water swim today and had some navigational problems, as well as problems with running into people (or them running into me). i just wanted to start a thread for some more experienced open water swimmers to get advice on these problems, as well as share ideas for quicker starts and finishes.

Sat. Jul 8, 6:39pm

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Really interesting. What is an "open-water swim"?
Are you talking about swimming in a lake for a triathlon?

Sunday, July 09, 2006, 1:19 AM

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Wow, I have never done this as a race, always on my own!
I've never had "navigational problems" but I think that's because I've swum in areas I knew really well. It's probably worth familiarizing yourself with the course (at different stages of the tide, too, if you are swimming in the ocean) before a race -- much more so than with running.

Sunday, July 09, 2006, 8:05 AM

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OP here - to the 1:19AM poster. an open water swim is a swim that is not in a pool - so a lake for a triathlon, or an ocean (as in my case) would qualify. mine wasn't for a triathlon, just an ocean mile race.

i've never done open water anything before, unless you count swimming back to the jet skis that i just fell off. i've always been a pool person and got spoiled by the black lines and lane ropes. the course was marked, but not well. first we ran, then swam out to an orange buoy. then we turned north and stayed on the outside of the "barnacle-encrusted poles" running parallel to the beach. we swam all the way to the yellow buoy, looped around it, then came back on the inside of the "barnacle encrusted poles" parellel to the beach. we looped around the orange buoy again and swam / ran back into shore. i had no navigation problems on the way out, just on the way back. the poles blended in with the pier in the background. i also couldn't see the orange buoy to mark the end for the longest time. and towards the end of the race the wind kicked up, the waves got big, and when i looked up to see the course sometimes all i could see were big waves and the pier in the background.

and people running into each other was also a big problem. after speaking with experienced triathletes, this is always a problem. the water was not clear at all, so you couldn't see the bottom or the other people. whenever you tried drafting (swimming just behind somebody and making them do the work while you tail them - the same as racecar drivers) you just ranover the person because you couldn't see them. sure you could swim with your head up half the time, but that makes you go slower and work harder, defeating the whole purpose of drafting.

i've got a triathlon in a few months and hopefully i'll learn some tricks before then.

Sunday, July 09, 2006, 11:09 AM

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In order to stay on track you need to be "sighting" lifting your head out of the water every couple of strokes to keep the buoys in sight to make sure you are on the right track. This can be difficult if you have dark goggles or if the sun is in the way. You should be able to find something (house, flagpole, etc) that you can keep an eye on to keep you on track. If you do it every 5 or 6 strokes it is not as tiresome and doesn't allow you to get too far off track if you happen to be veering one way.

Yes the running over people will always be a problem, if you really don't like that aspect of it....not many do...I would suggest waiting a few seconds after the gun goes off and letting everyone get ahead of you then you can swim your own race towards the back. If you don't want to be at the back (that can be frustrating too) move towards the left or right side out of the "pack". It will get more comfortable as you do more of them.

Sunday, July 09, 2006, 12:36 PM

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Wow, that sounds really intense.
I've always done lap swimimng (the last time I did anything competitive, I was in the 8th grade... LOL)

I'm thinking of swimming and getting fit for a team triathlon with my hubby and one of my friends for 2007. I have a pass for the metro parks, but I'm guessing that it would be pretty useless to swim at the beach because of all of the kids....

Hopefully, I will be able to start swimming soon-- my schedule is quite hectic at the moment and I can't get to the pool regularly until August...

Monday, July 10, 2006, 3:42 AM

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