SwimTrek run coaching camps for all abilities from your first open water experiences to preparing to swim the English Channel! Spend a week with our expert guides, soaking up their knowledge and going through both the physical and mental preparations for your next swimming challenge. There is technique analysis and in-depth seminars from experienced swim guides, who will help you plan your routine and complete your goals, as well as a combined of adventurous pool and open water sessions.
Check out the full range of our coaching camps.
SwimTrek Coaching Philosophy
All of our coaching is focused on getting the most out of your stroke in an open water environment.
SwimTrek coaches use a combination of theory and practical sessions to help you understand what you should be doing and why you should be doing it. We help you close the gap between your current swim stroke and the perfect, most efficient stroke. Our coaches are experienced open water swimmers and always have the knowledge required to teach you the latest techniques and develop suitable training plans to help you reach your open water goals.
Whether you're preparing for an upcoming SwimTrek holiday, or an open water swimming event anywhere in the world, a coaching session with one of our qualified swim guides is the perfect way to develop your open water swimming skills.
SwimTrek Training Plan
SwimTrek's official Open Water Training Plan has been put together to try to give you a basic introduction to swimming in open water. Whether you're a novice swimmer, who would like the confidence to take a dip outdoors, a competent pool swimmer taking that leap to open water, or even someone who just wants to sharpen their skills, we're sure there is information in this plan that you will find useful.
SwimTrek's Guide to Open Water Swimming Technique
We’ve put together the following 8 pointers as a quick guide to help you on your way to becoming a more efficient open water swimmer and to make the most of your open water experience!
As well as a technique point in open water, sighting is also an important safety issue. How often to sight is a balancing act between the delay in going off course and the reduction in speed caused by lifting of your head. Effective sighting incorporates the head movement in to the natural rhythm of your stroke
Common Fault: Don’t try and breathe when you lift your head up to sight, as this will cause you to lift your head up high, thereby causing your lower body to sink. It’s much better to sight with your eyes just above the water and then to breathe to the side as normal.
As well as a key technique point in open water, sighting is also an important safety issue. How often to sight is a balancing act between the delay in going off course and the reduction in speed caused by lifting of your head. Effective sighting incorporates the head movement into the natural rhythm of your stroke.
Common Fault: Look forward as if you are focusing on the end of the pool lane. As well as causing the legs to drop, this can lead to neck injuries especially in choppy conditions. Looking straight down or at most ½ metre in front of you will assist your legs in keeping horizontal.
Bilateral breathing is often perceived as the be all and end all of an effective breathing technique. Whilst it is undoubtedly good in keeping your stroke symmetrical and should be honed by all prospective long distance swimmers, for open water you also need to ensure that you can breathe to just the one side if chop/waves are hitting you from just one direction.
Common Fault: Often swimmers will be seen breathing every 3 or even 5 strokes and struggling for breath or being unable to improve their swim times. It’s important to remember that oxygen is your greatest and first source of energy. Increasing the frequency of breathing (i.e moving from 5 strokes/breath to 3 strokes/breath or 3 to 2 strokes/breath can dramatically improve performance.
Keeping momentum during your swim is essential. In calm conditions, a nice elongated stroke with an effective glide at the end of each stroke is ideal. However it’s imperative to note that in choppier conditions where the swimmer is being pitched around more, achieving any sort of momentum is tricky and in fact an elongated stroke can be counterproductive as you may find yourself being pushed side to side or even backwards. In these situations a shorter and faster stroke can be used.
Common Fault: If the wind and swell is coming from behind you, even though conditions may be rough a glide may still be beneficial as you are being pushed in the right direction. It’s only when the conditions are either coming at you or to your side that you will need to revert to this punchier stroke.
As previously mentioned it’s essential to keep your stroke symmetrical to maintain a straighter course and also to avoid injuries. Hence both sides of your body need to work in tandem with the other. Bilateral breathing will help us but also having somebody look at your stroke or even better somebody videoing your stroke to ensure that both sides of your body are doing the same thing!
Common Fault: The most common type of lopsided stroke is during the propulsive phase. If the direction and angle or both arms is not the same you will get an uneven stroke and hence a journey going from side to side rather than in a straight line.
Effective body roll is essential for a good open water technique. It’s essential that the roll is powered from the hips and not the chest as this ensures that the whole body rolls in unison for maximum efficiency. Also the amount of Roll should be to the same angle on both sides. The benefits of rolling compared to lying flat in the water are:
- The bigger back muscles are used rather than the smaller shoulder muscles when swimming flat.
- You offer less resistance in the water as instead of a head and 2 shoulders causing drag when rolling effectively only 1 head and 1 shoulder is creating resistance.
- In choppy conditions rolling allows you to breathe above the chop.
- Allows an easier arm recovery and hence less rotator cuff injuries.
Common Fault: Don’t try and breathe when you lift your head up to sight, as this will cause you to lift your head up high thus causing your lower body to sink. It’s much better to sight with your eyes just above the water and then to breathe to the side as normal
In flat conditions your hand should enter the water somewhere between your ear and the inside of your shoulder. This will allow you to maintain a decent roll. In rough conditions you may find yourself being pitched from side to side and hence rolling excessively! Widening the point where the hand enters the water to be in line with your shoulders or even further out acts like stabilisers and thus gives you greater stability in the water.
Common Fault: For many swimmers when the hand enters the water and the arm fully extends, they let their hand sink well below the surface. When they start to bring their hand back at the start of the propulsive phase they then have to fight against gravity to pull the arm backwards. It’s much better initially to extend the hand higher up, to just below the surface, thus using gravity to your advantage.
In freestyle swimming only between 5-15% propulsion is generated by the legs, because of this and especially for open water swimming where distances are generally longer, it’s more efficient to focus your energy into your upper body. It is essential that you kick your legs enough to keep them on the surface as letting them drag behind you can be like dragging a parachute behind.
Common Fault: During the kick, while a little knee bend will happen the kick should be powered from the hips. Too often we see swimmers who kick from the knees thus causing their legs to sing straight down in the water a simple change of technique can have significant consequences to the stroke.
London - Swim Coaching and Open Water Fitness Sessions at Tooting Bec
Brighton - Swim Coaching and Open Water Fitness Sessions at SeaLanes in Brighton
Are you looking for some open water coaching before your upcoming trip? Would you like to become more confident in the open water? Our open water swimming coaching sessions in Brighton could be perfect for you!
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SwimTrek run swim coaching trips, adventure holidays as well as iconic racing events to over 40 worldwide locations. Join our subscribers to be the first to hear about new trips and we'll keep you in the loop with updates from our global open water swimming community.