I invite you to have a look at this very revealing footage taken at Busselton 70.3 race, courtesy of Swimsmooth. It shows a large proportion of swimmers in this race zig-zagging their way to the swim finish adding 100’s of meters to the swim which translates to unnecessary time and extra fatigue at the start of a long endurance race. This analysis demonstrates why we focus so much on sighting drills in our squad swim sets and encourage you all to breathe bilaterally. Many of the other drills we do are designed to develop a symmetrical stroke, which will also aid you to swim straight.

How to sight effectively

Find a stationary object in the distance, or at the end of the pool, that you can see from the surface of the water, as you swim take a normal breath to the side and then, either immediately or after one stroke, lift your head directly ahead just enough to have your goggles clear the surface and sight your marker, note your mouth will still be below the water line.

Try to keep your stroke smooth and rhythmic and don’t pause for the sighting phase. Keeping most of your face (hence head) in the water keeps your hips from dropping too low, causing drag. If you aren’t able to see your marker go back to your stroke and try again next breath.

In big swells try to time your sighting to coincide with you going over the crest rather than in the trough where you’re more likely to get a great view of the oncoming wave.

Try to swim as frequently as possible in the open water to practice these skills.

If you’re still unsure about sighting or whether you’re stroke is symmetrical, ask the coach at your next squad session. STG will be holding occasional wetsuit swims in open water to get you used to rounding buoys and sighting in race simulation conditions – keep an eye on Facebook to see when sessions are coming up.