Questions about this site? Contact the owner Scott at or via Twitter @scottmhughes

How to Swim Straight in Open Water

Jun 19, 2007 |

Kevin Koskella wrote an article in which he explains how to swim straight in open water:

Swimming straight is a major challenge to open water swimming (and even swimming in a pool with lane lines!), and the key lies in one of our other fun challenges in swimming: breathing!

Here’s a quick guide to swimming straight:

1. Simply doing alternate (or bi-lateral) breathing would go a long way towards making you swim in a straight. If you are comfortable with this, breathe every 3 strokes and you will be much more in line with where you want to go.

2. If you cannot get enough oxygen while breathing bilaterally, this can be a big problem on a distance swim. Practice swimming and breathing 2 strokes on the left, 2 on the right, then go to 3 breaths left, 3 right. Then try 2 on the left, 1 on the right, 3-1, etc. Find what works for in keeping you in line and stick with that plan in your race.

3. Practice sighting less often, as this will disrupt your stroke rhythm and balance. If you tend to sight every 4 strokes, lower this to 6, then 8. See if you can get to 12 strokes head down and one peak up. You can do some of this in a pool but getting in the lake or ocean will be essential before you race!

4. Keep your strokes long and extend that arm out in front on each stroke and drive it forward.

5. Practice the One Arm Drill (in the Complete Guide), and pay attention to your arm pull, making sure you are not crossing in with your hand.

6. Practice open water swimming. Just being used to the environment will get you more comfortable, and you will intuitively pick up on swimming straight out there.

Notice the use of the word “practice” consistently throughout these tips. Keep that in mind as you learn this new skill!

Kevin operates the website , a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. Kevin has also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” which is sold on his website in downloadable form.

Posted in: Triathlon Swimming

Comments are closed.