Taming the Open Water Beast!!! Part 2

Last post I identified the beast that is the focus of my open water swimming problems.  The goal of this post is to look at those issues and address ways to correct them, resulting in a set of achievable goals for the last open water swim of the month in a couple of weeks.  I believe the problems identified are fixable and it really will be a matter of finding actions that will help to correct the addressed issues and hence tame the beast.  Most of the issues are compounded issues, so a few fixes and resolutions should go a long way.

  1. Don’t panic.  Need to find a way to just stay calm, put my head down and swim.
  2. Keep swimming – This is a big one for me, I need to not stop swimming and avoid crawling so early.  On my next open water swim I am going to make it a prime goal to not allow myself to start the crawl till I am at least at the second buoy and hopefully not at all.  I will keep the goal small for now, I at least want to swim around the first buoy without stopping.
  3. Breathing – I started this Monday in my drills, I plan on continuing practicing it.  Basically use a 3 stroke breath pattern.  I need to practice sighting and not using sighting as a time to breath.  So 3 stroke breath when not sighting and when I need to sight extend it tow 3 stokes head pop and sight stroke and breath.  I know from experience I can go 5-6 strokes without breathing now.  But if I stick to 3 strokes and actively aim to breath on every 3 rd stroke then I believe breathing will not be a problem.  Also, practicing sighting and breathing rhythm also makes it more habit.
  4. Try not to crawl so much – this comes off of other issues, but there are other things I can do besides crawling.  I can always roll over onto my back and catch my breath, hence saving my arms.
  5. Enjoy the swim and trust that practicing this in the pool will help on the day of the next open water swim.

There you go.  I think if I can follow these and practice this I will be good in two weeks.  I started working through my sighting and breathing issues on Monday’s swim practice and that appeared to work really well.  Hopefully this will help me toward being a better open water swimmer.  Till next time.



  1. I see no reason to deprive your body of oxygen. Watch world class long distance swimmers, they breathe every stroke, often always to the same side. There’s no substitute to doing a lot of any skilled activity. Even swimming, as repetitive and simple as it is, needs to be ingrained into your “muscle memory” ( well, cerebellum, actually). Breathe!

    1. It feels more natural for me to breath every three strokes. Plus I find I am allot more fluid and controlled in the water. Also, a 3 stroke count balances things so I am swimming straighter with bilateral breathing. I am sure this is just personal preference.

  2. I hear a lot of people talking about bilateral breathing every three strokes. I’m not very good at bilateral breathing so I was breathing every 4 strokes. I found that doing this would increase my heart rate making it harder for me to do this. Recently I have switched to a every other stroke breathing method and it has worked flawlessly. I am much more calm, and I don’t feel like I’m going to die. One thing that helped me not breath while sighting is to continue to breath out as you pop your head up. Just my two cents.

    1. I am still experimenting with it. Every 3 strokes seems to work pretty well. In the open water I tend to get out of rhythm. I have started practicing sighting in my drill work and it is starting to feel more natural,. Good points though.

  3. […] outlined my earlier issues and diagnosed my problems in two earlier posts:  part 1 here and part 2 here.  So the ground work and the analysis has been laid.  Since then I have added sighting and […]

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