Get Wet: Preparing for Open Water Swimming

June 16, 2016

By Guila Muir


Swimming is the ultimate all-in-one fitness package.

Whether you participate in triathlons or swim just for fun, swimming offers a supreme and satisfying workout. Swimming has been shown to build flexibility, strength, and endurance, strengthen the heart and reduce overall inflammation while relieving arthritic symptoms.

Swimming not only burns calories, it also increases muscle tone.

Swimming outside in open water combines both the health benefits of swimming with the natural benefits of being outside. Follow these four easy tips to prepare you for open-water swimming this summer. Using a wetsuit can help with buoyancy as well as keep you warmer during off-summer months.

Pool Practice

Begin a swim training regime that builds strength and stamina before swimming in open water. Set aside time at least once a week to swim for a minimum of 30 minutes. As you swim, focus on stretching your body and feeling as streamlined as possible. Steadily work to increase your heart rate.

Alligator Eyes

An important skill to hone before swimming in open water is the ability to swim straight when there isn’t a guiding line on the pool bottom.

The “Alligator Eyes” drill will build your ability to sight effectively in the open water.

Enter the pool at the shallow end and look at the pool wall at the deep end. Begin to slowly swim freestyle and approximately every five to six strokes, look up just far enough to see the wall.

Swim in a Tight Pod

For those who primarily want to compete in open-water races and triathlons, swim in a pool lane with three or four other swimmers, close together. Get used to accidentally touching. This will boost your confidence on the day of your race, when unexpected physical contact is bound to occur.

Swim Outside

You’re now ready to experience the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of open-water swimming. Consult with your local parks and recreation department to locate your city’s designated swim areas and find out when and where lifeguards start working.

Guila Muir is the founder of Say Yes to Life! Swims, a Northwest company providing escorted open-water swim adventures and outdoor swim lessons. Contact her at