What is Open Water Swimming?

Open water swimming is a discipline that is performed in open-air bodies of water such as open oceans, lakes, and rivers. Modern open water swimming is believed to have started on May 3, 1810, when Lord Byron swam several miles to cross the Hellespont (now the Dardanelles) from Europe to Asia.

Racing Techniques


Even though most open water competitions do not necessitate a specific stroke, most contestants employ the freestyle.

Freestyle open water swimming


While crossing great gaps, swimmers may head off course as a result of the current, waves, wind, and poor visibility. Swimmers are urged to “triangulate” their location by looking for two lined up, straightforwardly noticeable objects on land that are right behind the last stop, such as the end of a pier as it lines up with a hilltop; and to make sure they remain to give the impression as if aligned all through the race.


Drafting is forbidden by some race guidelines. Drafting is the practice of tracking another swimmer so narrowly that water resistance is degraded. When swimming tightly together with or behind a swimmer in the lead swimmer’s position, resistance is lessened and the extent of effort to swim at the same speed is consistently decreased.


When getting in the water, swimmers can use procedures to take benefit of the low water. One of such practices is “dolphining”, which encompasses submerging down to the bottom and throwing oneself up and ahead.


The equipment permitted in a race varies on the approving body and or the race organizers. For instance, races might have categories for wetsuits or relays; might demand companion boats, kayakers, paddleboards, and can insist on explicitly colored swim caps.


For triathlons, competitive rule 4.4 of USA Triathlon asserts that “each age group participant shall be permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any event sanctioned by USA Triathlon up to and including a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 °C).”

Swimmer with wet suit and swim cap

The ITU statute is that wetsuits are permissible for elite triathlons at underneath 23 °C (73 °F) if 3,000 meters (9,800 ft.) or more, and inferior to 21 °C (70 °F) if briefer.

Wetsuits are obligatory in triathlons under 16 °C (61 °F) if 3,000 meters (9,800 ft.) or further.

Numerous forms of wetsuits of variable widths are worn in the open water swimming. Some utilize technological supplies and workmanship, others are of simple constituents found in surfing and diving wetsuits, yet, high-end triathlon wetsuits have added elasticity that affords easier scale of mobility than a surfing or diving wetsuit.

How is open water swimming different from the pool?

Swimming in a pool
Open water swimming

Water Quality

Open water is raw, so it has elements such as fish, plants, insects, bacteria, etc. A lot of these won’t harm you; the existence of plants and fish is a symptom of healthy water. Swimming pools, on the other hand, are dosed up with chemicals and filled with perspiration and urine.

Water Depth

In the pool, water depth is even and accompanied by signs to differentiate superficial and deep ends, but there’s no such predictability outdoors. Swimmers must be careful of shallow water as much as deep water and take care to guarantee there are no obstructions when entering to swim.

Water Temperature

The majority of inside pools are upheld amid 26 and 31 °C (79 to 88 °F), while open water can be 0 degrees or even a tad lower in the sea.

Water Movement

Water in pools hardly moves, whereas open water can move faster than you can swim. To stay safe, you need to know what’s going on in any body of water you swim in. It is time and again evident if the river water is running fast but it can still be hard to accurately estimate how fast and what the consequences are for swimming in it. If you are recent to outdoor swimming, stay in rivers where the current is less than your swimming speed, and always swim upstream first if you plan to get out at the same place you got in. Note that the tide in some rivers can shift very quickly after substantial rain or if they are measured by barriers.

Water Clarity

Outdoors, your view in the water can be close to none. Little visibility does not signify inadequate conditions or inappropriateness for swimming; you don’t require to be capable to see underwater to be able to swim.


Apart from the occasional calm days, the water surface of rivers, lakes, and oceans is hardly ever plane. Swimming in irregular water can be exciting and enjoyable, but it’s also more problematic than swimming in the peaceful settings of an inside pool. You will get weary more speedily when swimming in rough water, and you will find it more challenging to see where you are going, so always remain well in your capacities.