Visit USA Swimming's Open Water Page
for the latest Education for Swimmers, Parents and all Event Support roles, including Open Water Officials, Meet Managers, and Coaches
Open Water Athletes can find all the
Techniques and Tips
and other useful information
to make Open Water Swimming Great!
Meets - Including Zones and Nationals
Getting started as an
Open Water Official or Meet Manager
Get Involved with MD Swimming Open Water
Open Water is very different from competitive swimming in the pool, as there are no lane lines, the water is not always clear, making it necessary to sight above water to see where one is going, and there is a presence of wildlife. Open water also requires a different mindset since there are no walls or lane lines, swimmers are constantly making contact, and one must consider such tactics as drafting, working together with teammates, and knowing when to chase someone down, or catch up slowly. Every open water venue is also different, as one race may be in a lake, another in a river, and yet another in the ocean. One also needs to know something about their opponent in order to know whether they can sustain a break away or not, or whether they can stay with you if you decide to quicken the pace. If you think this sounds similar to what a rider in the Tour de France would be thinking of, you are correct. Open water brings a whole new concept of race strategy to swimming. The open water swimmer must also be very flexible in the type of swimming he is comfortable with, as it may be as calm as a pool, or as rough as a windy day in the ocean. There also may be currents caused by the flow of a river or tidal flow, in which case it is also necessary to consider the time of High and Low tides. Feedings during a race may also be necessary if the swim is over 5 K. Finally, it is often necessary to change speeds suddenly, often referred to as shifting gears, including stopping or sprinting in the middle of a race.