5 Ways To Swim Faster In The Open Water

How do I swim faster!? This has got to be the number one question for any open water swimmer or triathlete grinding their way up and down the pool hoping to make that leap forward. The answer to this question will most likely be different for everyone so here are 5 ways to swim faster in the open water – chances are one or more of these will be for you!


1 – Tempo


It is easy to get stuck swimming with the same stroke rate/tempo if this is the only tempo you practice. Getting faster in the open water sometimes means picking up your tempo and being able to hold this tempo as long as possible. If you find yourself cruising along gliding from side to side too much, practice increasing your tempo and practice holding it. Just remember not to sacrifice a long stroke for a higher tempo – the goal here is to increase your stroke rate not just shorten your strokes.


2 – Swimming front wheel drive


Your legs are your biggest muscle group in your body and therefore when we use them we use a massive amount of oxygen. You are probably well aware of how hard a kick set is in the pool! When swimming in the open water we want to swim arm dominant (or front wheel drive) as this is more economical for our heart and lungs. This does not mean you should completely forget about kicking though as kicking is still very important for keeping your body high in the water and for any speed pace change that occurs in a race.


3 – Technique changes


Becoming a more technically efficient swimmer should be the goal of every athlete working on their swimming. Changing aspects of your technique can be challenging and requires a lot of mental focus. Sometimes we need to get slower to get faster – changing aspects of your technique will initially make you slower until it has become a habit.

For tips on your technique check out our free video analysis: 



4 – Training open water skills


Practice open water skills often. Sighting, drafting, turning buoys and swimming in crowds is hard work and can easily drain energy and exhaust us. Add these skills into your weekly training routine to increase your race fitness. These skills can also be practiced in the pool. 

Check out our video on practicing open water skills in the pool:


5 – Training effort


The easiest way to swim faster in the open water is to train harder! Yes, easier said than done but with some motivation and a plan in place putting in more effort during your training will make you faster in the open water. As simple as that. If you want to be faster in the open water you can’t skip the struggle!


For more info check out our video:


Carl is head coach at Swim360 Coach, a former Olympian and national champion freestyler. Carl now uses his skills and passion for coaching and competing in the open water.