How To Swim In A Straight Line
While I know that GPS watches are probably not super accurate in the open water I have noticed, from some Strava analysis, that inexperienced swimmers tend to post longer yardages than more experienced triathletes on the same course. I don't need to explain to you why swimming a more direct line is better for you but how do you do it? We all know you CAN swim in a straight line because you're not crashing into the lane ropes, or your lane mates, at the pool. Even if we know your stroke isn't perfectly symmetrical we know with constant visual queues you're able to swim in a direct line. How can we translate this to open water? Here are some tips:
1. Practice, obviously. But practice in all sorts of varying conditions. Don't swim the same course every open water swim. Choose new buoys, routes and circuits and preferably bodies of water so you're not relying on familiar cues.
2. Have an honest friend, or coach, swim behind you while you try and line up a buoy. Sometimes you don't even know you're not swimming straight. If you're always going off course to the right you might try aiming to the left of the landmark. Or if you're looking up every 20 strokes and going wildly off course you might want to try looking up every 10 strokes until you're more confident you're swimming straight.
3. Unless someone is physically blocking your path brush right up against the turn buoy. I have no idea why someone would take a wide berth around a buoy in a race but I see it all the time. Take short deep, choppy strokes to get around tight turns.
4. Get a swim video analysis. There might be something knocking you off direction. Most common I see if placing the arm across the body when it's re-entering the water, especially after breathing.
5. Close your eyes. This is a bit scary but if you have a lane to yourself try swimming up the middle with your eyes closed. You'll find out pretty quick if you're swim stroke is symmetrical.