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Conrad Stoltz's open water swimming tips

Sports — 28 May 2014

Doing you swimming drills in the pool is important, but nothing beats the outdoors, says Stoltz.

It's one of the biggest issues for triathletes and something of interest to anyone who loves open water – how to improve your technique. As everyone knows – and often dreads! – being disciplined about swimming drills is essential to improve your performance. But not everything can be learned in a pool, says Conrad Stoltz.

“Good open water swimming comes from lots of practice,” says the multiple XTERRA champion.

“You have to learn different kinds of open water. Lakes are easy, but ocean swims have waves, currents and sand bars, and river swims are tricky because of currents.”

He says there's no substitute for getting out there into the wild and just getting the feel of different water types.

Of course, when it comes to actual swimming race preparation, he says the trick is to swim as often as possible in a group. You should also ask yourself important tactical questions. “Where to position yourself at the start? How to pace yourself to start fast without blowing up? How to draft, where to postition yourself around the buoys?” he says.

 “Building fitness in a pool with a swim squad is good,” he adds, “but I try to spend as much time as possible swimming open water. There is no substitute for open water – plus it's usually more fun than staring at the black line!”

Conrad's top 3 tips: 

  1. Swim outside in different conditions – lakes, rivers and the sea.
  2. Swim in a group and practise drafting.
  3. Plan your race tactics.