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2008-12-20 7:07 PM

Master
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Subject: Open water sighting technique an difficulty

I'm still struggling with sighting on open water swims and have been trying to practice in the pool, but I have no idea what the best technique is. I tried looking at videos on Youtube, but couldn't find anything that clearly explained the best technique.

I currently feel that I waste a LOT of energy when I sight - when I get to the phase of my stroke where I lift my head out of the water to see forward, I lose a lot of speed and disrupt my stroke. I'd estimate it adds 25% of difficulty to my swim.

Any pointers / links / comments to help? Also, any pool drills for OWS would be helpful, as well as frequency of how often to practice sighting. (Should it be easy to swim at a similar speed to your pool swim with sighting?)



2008-12-20 9:25 PM
in reply to: #1865198

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Expert
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The Woodlands, TX
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
agarose2000 - 2008-12-20 7:07 PM

I'm still struggling with sighting on open water swims and have been trying to practice in the pool, but I have no idea what the best technique is. I tried looking at videos on Youtube, but couldn't find anything that clearly explained the best technique.

I currently feel that I waste a LOT of energy when I sight - when I get to the phase of my stroke where I lift my head out of the water to see forward, I lose a lot of speed and disrupt my stroke. I'd estimate it adds 25% of difficulty to my swim.

Any pointers / links / comments to help? Also, any pool drills for OWS would be helpful, as well as frequency of how often to practice sighting. (Should it be easy to swim at a similar speed to your pool swim with sighting?)



I imagine the "best" technique could be argued for days, but here is what I preach....

When you lift your head above the water to sight, gravity comes into play, and more times than not, your legs drop down in the water. That's why head-up swimming can be a disaster and will wear you out in a hurry. Instead of swimming head up freestyle for a number of strokes while you figure it alll out, try this:

Lift your head up right before your arm recovers, catch a glimpse, and then turn your head to get your breath like usual as that arm comes around for the recovery. That doesn't give you much time to sight, but that's ok. While your head is back down inthe water, think about what your just saw. On the next stroke, lift your head and focus your sighting on the items you saw from the previous sighting. This way the second you lift your head you know what to look for. Again, the sighting itself is very brief, but it allows for very little interuption in your stroke and allows you maintain speed. When I sight I usually look 3-4 times in a row before I go back to regular swimming.

Hard for me to describe in writing and I don't have any video, but if you can make any sense of that, I hope it can help.

TJ
2008-12-20 9:47 PM
in reply to: #1865198

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Sneaky Slow
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Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty

Sighting is overrated.

Follow the people in front of you.  Let them do the work.

And even if you don't, the amount of distance, and time, lost by swimming off course, is a lot less than you'd think.  For example, suppose you are swimming a 250m leg, and by the end of the leg, you are 50 meters off course.

You know how many meters you have actually swam (swum??) in this example?  254 meters.

Instead of wasting your time practicing sighting in the pool, work on your stroke.

 

2008-12-21 3:14 PM
in reply to: #1865404

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Bob
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Binghamton, NY
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
tjfry - 2008-12-20 10:25 PM
agarose2000 - 2008-12-20 7:07 PM

I'm still struggling with sighting on open water swims and have been trying to practice in the pool, but I have no idea what the best technique is. I tried looking at videos on Youtube, but couldn't find anything that clearly explained the best technique.

I currently feel that I waste a LOT of energy when I sight - when I get to the phase of my stroke where I lift my head out of the water to see forward, I lose a lot of speed and disrupt my stroke. I'd estimate it adds 25% of difficulty to my swim.

Any pointers / links / comments to help? Also, any pool drills for OWS would be helpful, as well as frequency of how often to practice sighting. (Should it be easy to swim at a similar speed to your pool swim with sighting?)

I imagine the "best" technique could be argued for days, but here is what I preach.... When you lift your head above the water to sight, gravity comes into play, and more times than not, your legs drop down in the water. That's why head-up swimming can be a disaster and will wear you out in a hurry. Instead of swimming head up freestyle for a number of strokes while you figure it alll out, try this: Lift your head up right before your arm recovers, catch a glimpse, and then turn your head to get your breath like usual as that arm comes around for the recovery. That doesn't give you much time to sight, but that's ok. While your head is back down inthe water, think about what your just saw. On the next stroke, lift your head and focus your sighting on the items you saw from the previous sighting. This way the second you lift your head you know what to look for. Again, the sighting itself is very brief, but it allows for very little interuption in your stroke and allows you maintain speed. When I sight I usually look 3-4 times in a row before I go back to regular swimming. Hard for me to describe in writing and I don't have any video, but if you can make any sense of that, I hope it can help. TJ

X2 - Nice job on the description. Here's a video clip I made last year showing how to OW sight. I hope it helps. OWS Sighting (I am on a bungee cord, that is why I am not going anywhere. )

2008-12-21 3:35 PM
in reply to: #1865198

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Champion
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New York, NY
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty

not that I am any good at this (just see my race report from Philly), but I can tell you what my swim coach SAYS to do -

just barely get your eyes out - like an alligator every like 6-10th stroke as you go to breathe.

you could put something up on the pool deck to practice...

now this same swim coach threw things at me to get me used to what a tri swim would be like.....

2008-12-21 3:45 PM
in reply to: #1865198

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Champion
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Brooklyn, NY
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
I do the alligator eyes thing, lifting my head as I exhale on what would normally be a breathing stroke.

Before my first race I went to an OWS clinic and one of the trainers suggested sighting on consecutive strokes. In other words, sight every 6-10 strokes, but sight two strokes in a row just to make sure you're seeing what you think you're seeing. It's easy to mistake landmarks, or mistake lifeguards sitting on surfboards for buoys, etc.

As far as pool drills, you should try swimming with your eyes closed and see how straight you can swim. Look and see how many strokes it takes before you swim off course. That should be the minimum number of strokes you take between sighting.

Some goggles have wider fields of vision than standard swim goggles and they allow you to see in front of you without raising your head all the way out of the water.


2008-12-21 3:47 PM
in reply to: #1865998

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Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
rstocks3 - 2008-12-21 1:14 PM
tjfry - 2008-12-20 10:25 PM
agarose2000 - 2008-12-20 7:07 PM

I'm still struggling with sighting on open water swims and have been trying to practice in the pool, but I have no idea what the best technique is. I tried looking at videos on Youtube, but couldn't find anything that clearly explained the best technique.

I currently feel that I waste a LOT of energy when I sight - when I get to the phase of my stroke where I lift my head out of the water to see forward, I lose a lot of speed and disrupt my stroke. I'd estimate it adds 25% of difficulty to my swim.

Any pointers / links / comments to help? Also, any pool drills for OWS would be helpful, as well as frequency of how often to practice sighting. (Should it be easy to swim at a similar speed to your pool swim with sighting?)

I imagine the "best" technique could be argued for days, but here is what I preach.... When you lift your head above the water to sight, gravity comes into play, and more times than not, your legs drop down in the water. That's why head-up swimming can be a disaster and will wear you out in a hurry. Instead of swimming head up freestyle for a number of strokes while you figure it alll out, try this: Lift your head up right before your arm recovers, catch a glimpse, and then turn your head to get your breath like usual as that arm comes around for the recovery. That doesn't give you much time to sight, but that's ok. While your head is back down inthe water, think about what your just saw. On the next stroke, lift your head and focus your sighting on the items you saw from the previous sighting. This way the second you lift your head you know what to look for. Again, the sighting itself is very brief, but it allows for very little interuption in your stroke and allows you maintain speed. When I sight I usually look 3-4 times in a row before I go back to regular swimming. Hard for me to describe in writing and I don't have any video, but if you can make any sense of that, I hope it can help. TJ

X2 - Nice job on the description. Here's a video clip I made last year showing how to OW sight. I hope it helps. OWS Sighting (I am on a bungee cord, that is why I am not going anywhere. )

x3. Excellent description. You don't have to nail the sighting every time you look.

Also, get out during warmup and line up the swim lines you will be taking. Look for buildings, trees, piers, antennae, whatever, above the buoy you are aiming for,. Much easier to see things up high than at water level.In some large races, you can follow the crowd and not lose any appreciable time. I've definitely done that. But it doesn't always work and if you find yourself alone, there may be no crowd to follow.

However, I agree I wouldn't spend much time (i.e., 2 lengths at most) working on it in the pool. My .02



Edited by ChrisM 2008-12-21 3:49 PM
2008-12-21 10:33 PM
in reply to: #1865419

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Champion
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the colony texas
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
newleaf - 2008-12-20 9:47 PM

Sighting is overrated.

Follow the people in front of you.  Let them do the work.

And even if you don't, the amount of distance, and time, lost by swimming off course, is a lot less than you'd think.  For example, suppose you are swimming a 250m leg, and by the end of the leg, you are 50 meters off course.

You know how many meters you have actually swam (swum??) in this example?  254 meters.

Instead of wasting your time practicing sighting in the pool, work on your stroke.

 

I'm a big fan of this train of thought..I'll do my best to get right behind someone and draft as much as possible or  if I breath on my right side I'll line up waaay to the left so as I'm breathing I can see people we are all going to the same place,

2008-12-21 10:55 PM
in reply to: #1865198

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Master
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Chapel Hill, NC
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
I also use the alligator method, tho I call it froggy method. When I first start, I might do a few strokes of breast to find something large beyond the buoy to sight off of - distinct shape in the treeline, building, flagpole, whatever. On every 4th stroke, I lift my head up in the forward direction, no breath, just peeking up enough to see and look for that object. If I am on target, I'll try going 6, or even 8 strokes between sightings. If I am veering off course, I'll stick with 4 strokes. If I don't catch a glimpse of the buoy once in a while, I'll do some more breast stroke and regroup ....to make sure that the large object I initially chose is still the right thing to aim for.

That said, I will confess that my best ever swim time (last race this past season) was during a foggy race when I could not see anything at all. The only thing I could possibly do was to follow all the flying arms in front of me. It made me wonder if I should always just follow the crowd.

I have only successfully drafted for a couple minutes at a time. I never can seem to trust others enough. Whenever I pull behind someone, it feels too easy. But maybe it's supposed to feel easy, but then how do you gauge your if your speed is on target? I did talk to one fellow after a race about this who pointed out that if you spot someone with your cap color at the first buoy, you know they are going your speed, so you can trust them...so try to pull in behind someone at that point. Have not had a chance to test this theory out yet!


2008-12-22 1:39 PM
in reply to: #1866702

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Champion
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the colony texas
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty

It made me wonder if I should always just follow the crowd. I have only successfully drafted for a couple minutes at a time. I never can seem to trust others enough. Whenever I pull behind someone, it feels too easy. But maybe it's supposed to feel easy, but then how do you gauge your if your speed is on target? I did talk to one fellow after a race about this who pointed out that if you spot someone with your cap color at the first buoy, you know they are going your speed, so you can trust them...so try to pull in behind someone at that point. Have not had a chance to test this theory out yet!

Yes.. it's a very noticable difference when you are drafting, and for the 2nd part of what you said [ how do you gauge your speed]  is something I keep trying to figure out as well.. If I'm not sure if I'm going the pace I want to since it seems so much slower, I'll get out of the draft to attempt to pass them, if I can go around them without a lot of effort then i'll pass,, BUT if I notice that my effort level has increased a lot and it seems I'm still going the pace I want I'll go back to drafting.

It's worked best for me when I go out at a faster pace than I want then find someone that is also going that pace to get behind.. that way i'm doing the apx effort I was hoping for while swimming faster..

2008-12-22 1:45 PM
in reply to: #1867803

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Sensei
Sin City
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty

First, I focus on following and let them sight.

Second, I pick out something BIG to set my line.   I MTN peak or set of trees or a house on the beach.  That way, just the smallest glance from the corner of my eye can see it and I can keep my direction.  Looking for a float or something will take forever...



2008-12-22 2:13 PM
in reply to: #1865419

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Master
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Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
newleaf - 2008-12-20 10:47 PM

Sighting is overrated.

Follow the people in front of you.  Let them do the work.

And even if you don't, the amount of distance, and time, lost by swimming off course, is a lot less than you'd think.  For example, suppose you are swimming a 250m leg, and by the end of the leg, you are 50 meters off course.

You know how many meters you have actually swam (swum??) in this example?  254 meters.

Instead of wasting your time practicing sighting in the pool, work on your stroke.

 

 

I tried this once.  just followed the feet in front of me.  I swam right into one of the buoys.  it hurt. 

2008-12-22 4:15 PM
in reply to: #1865198

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Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty

Practicing your sighting in the pool seems to me to be largely ineffective. It can't recreate the distances you need to see. My advice is to get on someones feet and stay with him. That way you're only look a few feet ahead.

 

Matt Cazalas
Technical Writer

Network Cables

 

2008-12-22 4:19 PM
in reply to: #1868168

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Sensei
Sin City
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
sbrstlouis - 2008-12-22 2:15 PM

Practicing your sighting in the pool seems to me to be largely ineffective. It can't recreate the distances you need to see. My advice is to get on someones feet and stay with him. That way you're only look a few feet ahead.

 

Matt Cazalas
Technical Writer

Network Cables

 

The objective to practicing in the pool is not to recreate the distances to sight, but to practice the technique of looking forward while swimming.  So anything (I use the pool clock or sign on the wall) can be used to practice this.

2008-12-22 4:26 PM
in reply to: #1865419

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Expert
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The Woodlands, TX
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
newleaf - 2008-12-20 9:47 PM

Sighting is overrated.

Follow the people in front of you.  Let them do the work.

And even if you don't, the amount of distance, and time, lost by swimming off course, is a lot less than you'd think.  For example, suppose you are swimming a 250m leg, and by the end of the leg, you are 50 meters off course.

You know how many meters you have actually swam (swum??) in this example?  254 meters.

Instead of wasting your time practicing sighting in the pool, work on your stroke.

 





9 times out of 10 I would say this will work, but I can't suggest the 'ignorance is bliss' method in good conscience. That 1 in 10 chance will hit someday.

2008-12-22 4:29 PM
in reply to: #1868199

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Sensei
Sin City
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
tjfry - 2008-12-22 2:26 PM
newleaf - 2008-12-20 9:47 PM

Sighting is overrated.

Follow the people in front of you.  Let them do the work.

And even if you don't, the amount of distance, and time, lost by swimming off course, is a lot less than you'd think.  For example, suppose you are swimming a 250m leg, and by the end of the leg, you are 50 meters off course.

You know how many meters you have actually swam (swum??) in this example?  254 meters.

Instead of wasting your time practicing sighting in the pool, work on your stroke.

 

9 times out of 10 I would say this will work, but I can't suggest the 'ignorance is bliss' method in good conscience. That 1 in 10 chance will hit someday.

You can't ever forget about sighting all together, but you can go minutes between looks instead of every 5th or 6th stroke.

I look just to see my progess, check on the path of the person I'm drafting, or look to see if there are better drafting opportunities close by (going a little faster)



2008-12-22 4:35 PM
in reply to: #1865198

Master
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Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
Then there are folks like me, who swim too slowly in open water to find a guy to draft off of. =(
2008-12-22 4:42 PM
in reply to: #1867882

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Sneaky Slow
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Loudoun County, VA
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty
cusetri - 2008-12-22 3:13 PM
newleaf - 2008-12-20 10:47 PM

Sighting is overrated.

Follow the people in front of you.  Let them do the work.

And even if you don't, the amount of distance, and time, lost by swimming off course, is a lot less than you'd think.  For example, suppose you are swimming a 250m leg, and by the end of the leg, you are 50 meters off course.

You know how many meters you have actually swam (swum??) in this example?  254 meters.

Instead of wasting your time practicing sighting in the pool, work on your stroke.

I tried this once.  just followed the feet in front of me.  I swam right into one of the buoys.  it hurt. 

  although I didn't necessarily mean drafting.  You can follow the people in front of you without drafting per se.

I like what Aikidoman said, that it is probably only necessary to sight every minute or couple of minutes, rather than every 5th or 6th stroke.  A less drastic version of what I said.

2008-12-22 5:15 PM
in reply to: #1865198

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Bob
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Binghamton, NY
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty

In my experience it's very valuable to know how to sight AND to know how to draft. Both skills should be practiced.

This summer at Musselman HIM the water was so rough I had people swimming perpindicular to me they were so off course. (I would say that they swam a bit more than "a few yards" off course.) The white caps were so high that even swimming breaststroke it was hard to see the buoys. I found a farm with a silo to sight off and I felt like I was cheating. Every time I looked up the farm was there and I never went off course. I was feeling for the bodies going in every which direction but strait.

On the flip side, IMWI in 2007 I spent the first 1.2 miles swimming side by side with a guy before I dropped back on his feet for the second 1.2 miles. During the 1.2 miles drafting my HR was almost 20 beats per minute lower at the same pace. I got out of the water feeling like I just did a 1000 yd warm-up.

It's important to learn and practice sighting and drafting.

Just my $.02

2008-12-22 5:25 PM
in reply to: #1868293

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Sensei
Sin City
Subject: RE: Open water sighting technique an difficulty

Sort of obvious to me:

If you need to do it in a race, practice it.  Period.

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