One of the most challenging aspects of open water swimming is taking a direct route. Unlike a pool, there aren’t visible lines running underneath you to help you swim straight. Open water swimmers must lift their heads, occasionally, to spot a buoy or landmark.
Keeping the head in the water during freestyle helps maintain a correct body position. Lifting it, however, causes the feet to sink…especially if the swimmer is not wearing a wetsuit, which helps buoy the swimmer.
If some of your swim practices are in a pool, consider a set of 100s. Three times each 25 — or six if you are swimming in a 50m pool — lift your head and spot the end of your lane. Then, focus on returning to a good body position. To make it a little harder — and a bit more fun — think about spotting things that you know are on deck…but move around. For example, I’m going to spot a 3 kickboards, Coach John, objects on starting blocks, time on a pace clock, etc. This adds a little more realism, as you search for an object.
But, remember, the purpose of this exercise is for you to practice returning to a good body position after lifting your head to spot the buoy. Have fun!