This is an important skill in open water swimming. Once outdoors you can no longer rely on a lane rope or line at the bottom of the pool to ensure you are swimming in a straight line.
Instead pick an object or distinctive landmark in front of you and aim to swim directly for it. Varying conditions like waves, currents and an uneven stroke may sometimes push you off course so it is important to regularly check your marker to ensure that you are constantly heading in the right direction.
Depending on the conditions and the degree to which you can keep to a straight course, will affect how often you need to look up. Obviously the less you look up the more efficient you will become, but there’s no point in being efficient but swimming in the wrong direction!
(FC) For freestyle swimmers it will take a slight adaptation of your stroke to lift your head clear of the water. Lifting your head too much will cause problems for your body position, so you need to be able to do it as effectively as possible. The key is to fit each lift of the head into the natural rhythm of your stroke and only lift as necessary.
Drill: Select a marker at the end of the pool like the clock or timer as your target. The higher it is on the wall, the less you have to lift your head so the less you will slow down or lose your rhythm.
- As one arm extends and enters the water at the front of the stroke, begin to lift your head.
- Press down with the leading hand to bring your face clear of the water.
- You can take a breath at this point and orientate yourself at the same time.
- Drop the head back into the water as the other arm recovers over the water.
(BS) Obviously for breaststroke swimmers this is not much of a problem, as you will be looking forward every time you lift your head to breathe.