This may not be the same advice all coaches would give on rough water swimming but it’s topical in this Irish Summer so we’ll reproduce it here from an Article courtesy of Swim Smooth – Feel for the Water:
Something we often hear on internet forums is that swimming in open water is just like swimming in the pool. Unfortunately it isn’t!
What do you do when you turn up at a race and are faced with conditions like these:
– Stay calm before the start and back yourself to cope.
– As soon as you’re swimming, make sure you exhale smoothly into the water, this will help you relax and stay aerobic.
– Use a slightly straighter arm recovery to give you a greater arm clearance over the surface of the water.
– Focus on momentum in your stroke: shorten things a touch and keep a strong rhythm to help punch through waves and chop. It’s a little like using a smaller gear on the bike, you turn over quicker but each stroke is easier, keeping the effort level the same.
– Avoid over-gliding in your stroke at all costs or you will be swamped by waves and chop, and could end up being swept backwards!
– Enjoy the challenge and repeat to yourself a positive mantra that works for you, e.g. when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Cheesy but effective!
Remember that everyone finds swimming in rough conditions hard and swims slower than in flat conditions, even professional athletes. But cope well using the tips above and you will doing better than 90% of the field and will put a lot of time and distance into your competitors.
Whilst you may not be planning to be swimming in rough open water conditions, even a mirror flat lake will be churned into a lumpy, choppy mess by other swimmers in your race. For that reason a super-long pool stroke is rarely effective in open water.