Practice the respiration of the front crawl on both sides. When you are able to breath on both sides, you also can look on both sides. This is an advantage, especially in open water. Furthermore, you train both sides of your body proportionally. This helps injury prevention.
Try to swim straight with your eyes closed. This is a good practice for your coordination.
In open water the view under water is often very bad. The water might be dark and cloudy. It can be hard to swim straight if there is wind and/or waves. If you close your eyes several times while you are swimming in the swimming pool, you are able to practice straight swimming. Watch out: remember there are other swimmers as well. Start with 2 crawls with your eyes shut and build it up to 8.
Practice turning from your belly to your back in the swimming pool:
Swim calmly and turn after each 6 crawls to your back and straight on to your belly. You can use this technique in open water to see where your fellow participants are, to find familiar spots in the landscape or swim around a buoy easily.
In open water there are no sides to help you turn around like in the swimming pool. You can practice this easily: try to turn around just before the sides without touching them.
Water polo crawl
The water polo crawl is the front crawl with your head above the water. In the beginning, this can be heavy. But in open water, it can be an advantage.
By holding your head up now and then, you are able to see if you are swimming in the right direction. Concentrate on a buoy, a specific spot in the landscape or the other side of the swimming pool. Keep your eyes above the water for a moment, this will be sufficient. You can practice this in the swimming pool.
If you are not able or don’t want to swim the front crawl, the breaststroke is a good alternative. Suggestions to swim a good breaststroke:
- When your arms go through the water, keep your fingers pointed to the bottom.
- The congestion and power has to come from your legs. Watch out during the training, you don’t have a lot of congestion from your arms. Your arms stroke the water instead of ‘catching’ it.
If you are having cramp, don’t panic. Turn on your back, slowly turn your foot left and right from the ankle till the cramp diminishes. Treading water and shake your calves could also help you.
Cramp is very common and is caused by the touching of your calves. A preventive action is stretching on a regular base, not only before a competition or training, but during the whole year. Keep your ankles flexible and make sure that you drink enough (at least half a liter every hour). If it is very hot outside, make sure you drink this amount every half an hour. You can read more about drinking during a swim on: www.mijnzwemcoach.nl.
Your legs use most of the oxygen. If you only use your legs to float horizontal, you will use less oxygen. In this case, for every two legstrokes and one armstroke (1:2). This way you will get tired less easily.
If you have the opportunity to train in open water, do it.
If you are using a wetsuit, try to train with it as well. It is different if you’re not using one, because it helps you float better.
Check your goggles on a regular base: carefully pull the strings, look for little bursts and the ridges that show traces of wear, especially at the buckles where the strings are attached. The sun, chlorine and moisture affect the strings and they will get more fragile. Keep your goggles in a soft curtain, for example your towel and let it dry every time you have used it.
Vaseline is a good solution for little rug burns that you can get in your armpit, neck, thighs or next to your swimsuit straps.
Be careful, Vaseline might affect the material of your wetsuit.