Different strokes for different folks

Should I be using a different swimming technique in open water?

That was a question I had sent to me this week (thanks David), and it’s a common one.

The simple answer is no, as much as possible your technique should remain the same as your technique in the pool (assuming you have an efficient technique in the first place – if not, get it looked at).

There are, however, some slight variations you can make to adjust to the open water, when waves, wind chop and swimmer wash make the water surface bumpier.

The magic carpet (negotiating a shore dump)

Everyone loves a good magic trick.

And this week at Bondi we’ve been teaching people magic.

You see, back in January we had a stormy southerly blow tons of sand up towards the walkway, dissolving our sandbanks, and creating a very deep longshore trough and berm.

Then, as if this wasn’t bad enough, the bulldozers that were brought in to move the sand back to the water, in all their wisdom, decided to deposit it right at the water’s edge, leaving an even steeper berm.

The result? When the swell rises we get a ferocious shore dump.

Relax and keep your head down

From a pure swimming point of view, when you transition from the pool to the ocean, your technique shouldn’t change.

All the fundamentals of the front crawl/freestyle technique remain the same.

Any additional ocean swimming techniques we add on to be more efficient in the open water and waves, need to be integrated as seamlessly as possible.

If you find yourself fighting the water, and using up energy quickly when you’re ocean swimming, then look first at these two potential symptoms.

Timing is everything

When it comes to ocean swimming, timing is everything.

We time our ocean swims on the tide & the wind.

We time swimming out through the wave zone in lulls, preferably in rip currents after big sets.

If we get our timing right, we can swim onto waves and surf them to shore.

Negotiating waves also requires getting our timing right, and it’s likely the timing you’ll need to perform the most often when you’re ocean swimming.

With every approaching wave, you need to think about timing.