By Trevor Hendy, Six-time Australian Ironman champion and four-time Ironman series winner.
There’s always a temptation to see an organised swim as purely a race but relax into it and you’ll find there’s so much more to ocean swimming than simply coming first.
When you relax, flow and feel the water it’s an opportunity to connect with that deeper part of yourself that doesn’t always get to shine through in the busy-ness of life.
Don’t just tick your swims off, immerse yourself fully.
Here are my top 5 tips to help you get the most out of your experience and swim faster for longer.
Ocean swimming requires rhythm that you can only truly get from relaxing. Breathing deeper into your diaphragm before you go swimming will calm you down.
If you can train yourself to breathe deeper whilst swimming, you will also get the benefit of more flotation (air) at a lower point to your torso. Deeper breathing allows you to let go of tension and relax.
2. Reach and Roll
The straighter you are, the more you will cut through the water and even plane higher in the water.
Reach towards your destination, this will straighten you out. When you allow yourself to roll, you can also cut through the bumps and chops that ocean swimming greets you with. It also gives your body momentum and rhythm. It is just a gentle pivot from the hips.
3. Jazz hands
Relax your fingers, don’t grip them. Firstly this allows you to connect and grab more water. But it also passes the relaxation all the way down your hands, wrists and arms, saves energy and strength, gives you a better feel for the water and puts your focus in the right areas, not into tense arms and shoulders.
4. Find landmarks
Where possible find high landmarks above your swimming target so you can see them easily from the water. Look for your landmarks when at the top of swells, not at the bottom.
Utilise the slip stream provided by others. Get into that vortex behind their feet. Don’t tap their feet, that won’t end well.
In extreme conditions, you can save up to 20% effort or go 20% faster. We are meant to live life occasionally slipping into the slipstream of others, that’s why we have relationships and don’t do everything alone. Be like the geese flying home for winter, take turns at the front.
Trevor is an ambassador for the Aussie Ocean Swim (Scarborough Beach WA, Sunday 15 April 2018).