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Techniques to Stay on Course in Open Water Swimming

Mastering the Sighting Shuffle

Open water swimming offers a refreshing escape from the pool, but staying on course can be a challenge without the lane lines to guide you. Here's where sighting techniques come in! Mastering these skills will ensure you reach that finish line (or avoid accidentally swimming to Canada!).

simply swim tow buoys

Consider using a tow buoy for increased visibility, these also have a useful integral dry bag for small valuables



The Two Main Sighting Styles:

  1. Crocodile Eyes: This is a subtle and efficient technique. As your arm reaches forward during the catch phase of your stroke, use that momentum to lift your head just enough to peek over the water with your eyes (think crocodile!).  Quickly scan for landmarks or buoys ahead, then return your head to the swimming position and breathe to the side as usual.
  2. Full Head Lift: This method offers a clearer view but disrupts your stroke rhythm slightly. During the recovery phase when your arm swings forward, lift your entire head out of the water for a quick, purposeful sighting. Aim for a breath-sight-breath rhythm, minimising the time your head is out for maximum efficiency.
simply swim swim caps for open water swimming

Bright swimming caps are perfect for boats, rowers and other swimmers to see you in the water



Tips for Effective Sighting:

  • Find a rhythm: Experiment with sighting every 3-6 strokes, depending on water conditions and visibility.
  • Co-ordinate with your breathing: Don't try to breathe and sight simultaneously. Separate them by sighting first, then turning your head for a breath.
  • Use landmarks: Identify prominent landmarks on the shore or buoys in the water to keep yourself oriented.
  • Sight on the tops of waves: In choppy conditions, time your sights for the peak of a wave to get the clearest view.
  • Practice sighting drills: In the pool, practice lifting your head for sighting while maintaining a good body position and efficient stroke.



simply swim rucksacks, towels and dry bag

These rucksacks and dry bags are ideal for your post-swim swimwear and gear 


Bonus Tip: Drafting:

While sighting is crucial for navigation, don't forget to utilise the "drafting" technique. Look for other experienced swimmers and position yourself slightly behind them to reduce drag and conserve energy. Just be mindful of giving them enough space and staying safe.

By mastering these sighting techniques, you'll transform open-water swimming from a daunting experience into a truly liberating adventure!