January 22, 2018

Tend To Drift To The Right

Q: “Whenever I swim in open water, I tend to drift to the right. Why does this happen and what can I do to swim straighter?”


A: Your struggles are not unique, as many people tend to not swim in a straight line in open water. Uneven stroke characteristics are magnified in open water when there are no lane lines to keep you on track. There could be many things causing you to swim off course, or it could be one small little fix. The best thing to do would be to get a swim coach to look at your stroke, but there are some other things you can try that could help.

Try experimenting with different breathing patterns. People that tend to breath off only one side tend to have a harder time swimming straight. Bilateral breathing (breathing off both your right and left side) is ideal for staying in a straight line since your stroked remains even.

When you swim at the pool, try to close your eyes and practice sighting. Take four-to-six strokes with your eyes closed, then take a peek above the water to make sure you are staying straight. Try to increase the number of strokes you take before you sight. Having lane lines is nice, but it is not a convenience you will have in an open water race. Why give yourself extra comforts you will not enjoy on race day? This is best to do when you have the lane to yourself. Don’t try it while sharing a lane; you might go headfirst into a fellow swimmer.

Practice open water swimming. The ability to efficiently sight, and sight less often, can only be attained by lots of practice in actual open water. Start with a low number of strokes in between your sighting, then work your way up until you can take 10-12 strokes between sightings while sill remaining straight.

Hope this helps, keep the questions coming athletes!

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