Open Water Swimming Clinics and Practices

by Pool Builders on 01-12-2013 in Articles

Are you ready to dive into the world of open water swim racing? Preparing for an open water swim race usually involves a lot of pool time. However, novice swimmers may benefit from specialized instruction and practice actually in the open water before race day.

Swimming in the open water feels very different from being in the safety of a pool. Looking down to see grass and fish instead of the reassuring black line in the pool can be disconcerting. Clear blue pool water may be replaced with murky, dark, foreboding water. The water's temperature may be much colder than pool swimmers usually face. Experiencing these differences before race day can reassure new swimmers before the big event.

There are two main ways to get accustomed to this new environment. A swimmer can attend a swim clinic or a group practice.

Swim Clinics

These clinics provide an additional layer of important skill building before the race. Local triathlon stores, training groups, or even the city government may offer these clinics. If possible, find one in the same location as your race to become more familiar with that particular spot.

At the clinic you will learn about safety (never swim alone), how to put on a wetsuit (slowly), how to enter the water (either running in or a deep water start), drafting (swimming super close to the next person), managing the crowd (you will get bumped), sighting (staying on course), rounding a buoy (give them a wide berth to start) and exiting (swim right up until your arms hit the beach).

Also, at clinics swimmers can learn to work through the common feeling of panic that may happen to even veteran racers. It is easier to practice these techniques close to shore for added reassurance. The coaches will teach skills that allow the swimmer to overcome their fears and continue the race.

Group Practices

Another option is to try a group practice, where certain swimming skills can be practiced over longer distances. A clinic can offer a fairly quick run through of many skills while group practices may focus on just one or two skills with longer duration. Practices usually provide more of a real workout, as opposed to clinics where the distances are kept very short. Attending regular group practices can be a great way to meet other swimmers for later swim workouts.

To find these group practices, contact your local triathlon store. Some stores may hold their own practices. If not, hopefully they can refer you somewhere else. Also, check out local triathlon training groups. A specific coach or even a sponsor, such as Team Luna Chix, may organize these. Explore local open water swimming organizations. Local swim race directors and master's swim programs might also have helpful connections.


Getting some solid open water swimming experience ahead of race day will bolster your confidence and increase your enjoyment of the event. Knowing how to handle the variety of issues that arise during an open water race will let you focus more on swimming past your competition.

Leave a Comment

List YOUR Pool Business