Dealing With Unexpected Open-Water Swim Scenarios

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  • Published Nov 28, 2011
  • Updated Dec 17, 2012 at 1:10 PM UTC
Haskins has experienced nearly every open-water swim scenario in her career. Photo: Paul Phillips

Pro triathlete Sarah Haskins, a 2008 Beijing Olympian, is one of the fastest swimmers on the ITU circuit. She gives advice on what to do in a few swimming scenarios that can throw triathletes off track.

Haskins has experienced nearly every open-water swim scenario during her career. Photo: Paul Phillips

… I have trouble staying on course in open water?

Swimming in open water is very different from the pool, as waves and currents are possible and you don’t have lane lines and black lines to help you swim straight. But there are techniques to help you stay on course. Every four to five strokes, I pick my head up out of the water to see where I am going. I always sight just before I take a breath, so the movement is more fluid. When I sight, I look for the swim buoys. But sometimes with large waves or choppy water, the buoys are difficult to see. To solve this problem, I will often look for large land markers over the buoys to help me sight the course. Sometimes the sun glare can be brutal, so make sure to wear tinted goggles. If you are behind someone, you can also follow the bubbles of their feet, which makes it very easy to sight. But make sure the person you are following is swimming in the right direction. Never blindly follow another swimmer!

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