Hints and tips provided by Naantali Marshall, multiple winner of the Pier to Pub Ocean swim.
- Be comfortable in the open water - Make sure you are comfortable swimming the distance of your race in the open water and also in a wetsuit if that's what you'll be wearing race day. It will calm your nerves and help avoid panic attacks if you are relaxed and confident you can make the distance, even if you have to take it easy and start behind the main pack and do the occasional breaststroke in order to get through it. Although the majority of training should be pool based for technique and varied pace purposes it's also good to mix in some open water sessions in different conditions so you can cope with chop, currents, waves and potentially in a restrictive wetsuit.
- Check the course and conditions on race day - Have a look at the course map prior to the race so you know what to expect as well as trying to view all the buoys from the shore making a mental note of their colour and size. Watch what the water is doing and if there are currents then cater for them in your start position and the direction you swim. Ideally swim the course or part of it as a warm-up.
- Swim your own race - Never, ever just follow the person in front of you as even the best swimmers swim off course and get caught up in the race instead of navigating properly. Regular head checks pay off in less distance swum but make sure you don't drop your hips and lose a streamline position when having a quick look. There's a fine art to raising your head enough to sight the next buoy whilst maintaining your speed and it's worth practicing this in training as well. Don't forget to think about your technique during a race too instead of just throwing your arms over. And lastly, usually the swim is the first leg of a long race day so pace yourself and don't lactate in the first hundred metres as you pay for it for the rest of the race!
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