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Open water lake swimming

pool & open water training


Open water techniques

Lots of first time triathletes & open water swimmers entering events avoid taking the plunge, so they often leave entering the open water to the last minute. If you have chosen to enter an event and especially events early in the season, its best you get in the open water and acclimatise. Acclimatising to the open water takes time and can't be rushed.

Open water skills should not be left to only the lakes. Learning in a controlled environment like the pool during the winter months definitely pays dividends.

Having an overview of what can be expected on race day will allow you to adjust your training plans and enter the lake with confidence as you have prepared.

Part of your open water preparation is understanding there are internal factors that you can control on race day and external factors which you have no control over.

Internal Factors - Factors you can control • ACCLIMATISING - Calm & controlled breathing. The worst thing you can do is hold your breath as this will cause you to hyperventilate. • MASS START - Where you position yourself in the start of the race – back or side. This will reduce the risk of panic or disruption. • STAMINA - Can you swim the distance? Yes, you can as you have trained. • SIGHTING - Goggles don’t leak & fit correctly. You have learnt the technique. • CLOSE PROXIMITY SWIMMING - Try to prepare in conditions that replicate your race dynamics.

External Factors - unpredictable & uncontrollable

•Depth of lake and water temperature.

•Lack of vision.

•Other swimmers swimming close to you.

•Water conditions.

•Natures creatures – jelly fish

•Changing weather.

Race Starts

- Dive starts from a pontoon.

- Straddle jump for Blenheim Palace Triathlon

- Deep water mass starts

- Beach start

Make sure when you're doing a dive start you don't get disqualified for falling in. The movement of the pontoon can cause you to be unbalanced & fall in. For a mass start, where you position yourself in the pack is very important. You don't want to be in the front of the pack if you are new to open water swimming. For beach starts and finishes you can add porpoise dives.

Open water starts. Australian exit.
Run in start!


- Australian exit

- Gantry finish - for the Henley mile

- Porpoise dives

Turning around buoys


- In line drafting

- Arrow Head drafting

Diamond head drafting


The quickest path between two points is a straight line. Sighting is vital to navigate. You will also need a balanced and well aligned stroke.


Starting off to fast can have a huge impact and is a common mistake made by novice open water swimmers. Track how fast you're swimming is key to developing good pacing skills. Pacing is a very important open water technique that needs to be practiced and learnt.

Close proximity swimming

Not being afraid to swim close to other swimmers and understanding you might get bumped is important to maintain race fitness.

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