June 30th - Sighting
One significant difference when swimming in open water is the lack of a thick black line to look at on the bottom of the pool. So when you swim in open water you need to know where you are going. Sighting during your lake swim will make sure you stay safe and on course.
Sighting during your swim should be quick and not interrupt your swim posture. Lifting up your head too much will cause your alignment to drop and produce drag. The legs and hips will sink into the water slowing you down.
Before taking a breath lift your head facing forward and look for your target. Only the top half of your face needs to clear the water. Turn your head to the side and take a breath before rotating your face back into the water. A few of these in succession should provide your brain with enough information to know where you are headed....or if you need to adjust course.
Sighting can also be practiced in the pool by finding an object to focus on.....the lifeguard, a clock, towel, bench, etc.
How often you take a look around is also important. Sight too often and you are wasting energy. Sight infrequently and you have a better chance of being off course when you do eventually take a look around. Sighting should be performed after no more than 10 strokes......unless you are a really straight swimmer.
Before starting your swim find landmarks that will help you reach your target. It an be a building, tree, dock, swim buoy. Better yet find several items that can help form that straight line to your destination. We don't always have multiple swim buoys available like the races. If you only have one landmark you will always be heading towards it no matter how crooked you may be swimming.
Sighting not only gets you to your destination but also gets you there safely. Sighting allows you to see what is happening around you. Other swimmers, obstacles, boats, etc. can be avoided when sighting properly.
So when you are swimming in open water make sure you see more than just what is below the surface.
Cleveland Tri Club