Race Tips For Open Water Swimming Events

open water swimming events

Taking part in open water swimming events can be quite daunting, especially if it’s your first one.

There are many factors to consider – What will the water temperature be? How many people will be taking part? Have I done enough training?

Although certain factors (such as conditions) are out of your control, there are many things you can do to prepare for your upcoming race.

Here are our top race-prep tips for open water swimming events:

The night before the event:

  • Pack your bag – make sure your costume, cap, goggles, towel (and wetsuit) are ready to go.
  • Get your food/snacks ready for the next day – the longer the event, the more important this is.
  • Get a good nights’ sleep – it’s quite normal to feel a bit anxious the night before an event, so try to get adequate sleep during the week leading up to an event.

The morning of the event:

  • Try to keep your morning routine as normal as possible.
  • If you’re used to eating breakfast early in the morning, try to eat at least 1.5-2 hours before your swim start. Otherwise have a snack or energy drink at least 30 minutes before. Don’t try anything you haven’t tested before!
  • Wear sunscreen – apply sunscreen at home. When you arrive at the event you’ll get your race number marked on your hand or arm, so you’ll want to have applied your sunscreen before.
  • Get to the venue early – know what time you need to meet and where you need to be.
  • Register at the venue – this is when you’ll be given your race number.
  • Listen out for the race briefing – usually about 15 minutes before the swim start.

Remember the Golden Rule – Never try anything new on race day! This applies to everything from gear to meals.

During the event:

  • Most swims have a ‘dry start’ which means that you start on the beach or side of the dam/lake.
  • Be mindful of swimmers around you. If you know you’re not the fastest of the bunch, start towards the middle/back or towards the side of the group.
  • Pace yourself. Start swimming slowly – avoid the urge to start all guns blazing! Your body needs a few minutes to adjust to the water temperature. Once you feel more comfortable (usually around the first buoy) you can start picking up the pace, but leave enough energy for the end!
  • Remember to sight. At least once every 30 seconds, lift your head and check you’re still heading towards the buoy. If the buoys are not very visible (small, dull in colour or waves obstructing them), try to align your sighting with a prominent landmark such a large rock or mountain in the back ground.

After the event:

  • Dry yourself as soon as possible – the afterdrop is on its way! Drinking a warm drink will help you warm up.
  • Celebrate your victory – you have completed your open water swimming event!

Take your open water swimming events experience to the next level

If you’re looking for training guidance and to join a fun, structured group, have a look at our Open Water Swimming Activities in Cape Town.

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