LOST AT SEA?
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Practice a straight arm recovery.
Your bent elbow recovery is fine in the pool or calm lake, but when wave after wave is washing over you, you’ll find your recovering hand continually getting slapped down. Each time it happens you lose a stroke. It adds up. Try increasing your roll slightly, then whip that relaxed arm straight up and over.
Recon your escape.
Prior to the start of the race swim out from the swim exit several hundred metres, turn around and take in the shore. Find something big to sight off – like a mountain, tree or building. Do not count on seeing buoys every time you sight. With the roll and the waves, more often than not, when you look up to sight, you’ll find yourself staring at more water. Which leads us to tip number 3.
Stick with the crowd.
If the ocean is rough and you’re getting tossed around, sighting can be a real challenge. You look up only to get slapped in the face time and again, but, no matter how rough it is, you will probably be able to see a metre or two in front of you. Get in with a group and trust the direction of those in front of you more than you would in a lake swim.
Keep your mouth shut.
It’s true you always want to avoid drinking while swimming, but drinking ocean water can ruin your day. Be especially conscious of this.
Go with the flow.
Be conscious of the wave pattern – especially as you approach the beach. Fifteen years ago I watched from the shore as Chris Mccormack slowed down in the last 100 metres of a swim leg. He kept looking behind him as the pack slowly pulled away. It was a draft-legal race. I thought he was throwing it away. I was wrong. He was looking for a wave. A good one came and he was up and on top of it. He shot past the competition, many of whom got washed under, was first on his bike and first to the finish. You can’t fight waves. Don’t try to pick up your effort as you’re being moved in order to hold your line. Move with them. There is a caveat though. Read the next tip for that.