Open Water Swim Tips

The following are some great open water swim training tips for Ironman and Triathlon athletes. They are bound to help you in your preparation and racing. As with most things in triathlon and life practise makes perfect. Practise putting your wetsuit on, practise taking it off with speed but control.

Put on your wetsuit properly you do not want it to leak.

Think positive staying calm uses up less energy.

Wear a neoprene hat and ear plugs, this prevents heat loss from the head.

Alcohol will lower your resistance to the cold so refrain from drinking any in the 48 hours before cold open water swimming.

Never train alone and let people know on dry land how long you will be and give them a signal if you are in distress i.e. one hand in the air. Swim together practise swimming behind a friend.

Wear a brightly coloured swim cap not black or navy.

Don’t panic take deep breaths and try to relax.

Get acclimated to cold water swimming then use only a thin swim cap build up the time you go into cold water will help when in a race you use thicker neoprene hat.

Cold showers and sitting in cold bath waters help but there is no substitute for being totally immersed in water.

Warm up for cold-water swimming with general gentle arm swinging. In circular motions 10 forward 10 back windmills on either arm.

Cold water constricts blood supply when you try and swim this will have the opposite effect. Start off swimming slowly and build up your pace.

Wetsuit Tips.

Depends on temperature of water shortie or full long legs or long arms or sleeveless long johns.

Provides buoyancy.

No gaps in body or arms

2-5 ml in thickness.

Thicker they were the more buoyant, but now modern triathlon wetsuit versions are much thinner and some even have built in air pockets.

Fit is vital, good range of motion, not too tight.

A windsurfing wetsuit will keep you warm but will not give you range of movement and are often too tight around neck for breathing when swimming front crawl.

Always use lubricant i.e. baby oil or body glide a wetsuit specific.

Vaseline can destroy neoprene wetsuits so use instead baby oil, non-protelum or vegetable oil in a spray can. Rub this around wrists and ankles and neck will reduce chaffing and help with easier removal of wetsuit.

Earplugs keep out bacteria and cold water.

For effective sighting always use two objects like tall trees brightly coloured buildings or shapes are especially important if the sun is bright and reflects of the sea. If this is a problem use tinted swim goggles.

Open water swimming tips

Do not stand up when exiting until you can touch the bottom with both hands on several swim strokes because you may be swimming over a higher bar.


One-piece Triathlon suit hybrid can be worn under a wetsuit or for a pool based swim Triathlon.

Race clothing moves with you and holds you in place.

Comfortable not too tight or lose. Any excess movement will cause chafing.

Quick drying so you can swim bike and run in same clothing.

Swim goggles

Seal style much better visibility