Swimming in a straight line, and having a good awareness of where you are will help keep you safe in the water, save time, save energy, and win races. Here’s my top tips:
1: Get your stroke sorted.
If you can’t swim 25m straight in a pool with your eyes closed (dont try this if your sharing a lane!) then no amount of sighting can help you. Your first job has to be to get you stroke sorted and symettrical, getting some lessons might help. Bilateral breathing, making sure your arms don’t cross the mid line at the front end, and ensuring you are pulling back smoothly and straight will help a lot. Once you’ve got this sorted then sighting will keep you on track.
2: Efficient and liberal sighting.
The problem with sighting forward is it takes energy and will slightly slow you down, therefore the best tactic is to sight only as much as you need to to go straight whilst saving energy. There is a natural part at the front of the stroke when your hand travels down, this can be used to give a little boost to lift your head from the water to sight. In smooth water lift just your eyes out like a snake in water, and then turn your head to the side naturally with the stroke before going back underwater. When the water is rougher you will need to lift your head a little higher using the same technique will help stop your hips and legs sinking too much. In really rough water if you’ve lost your bearing, or for an assessment of the competition at a crucial time in the race you may want to go ‘full water polo’ and keep your head out the water for a few strokes, this will give you a really good view of what’s going on but remember this will use a lot more energy.
3: Keep well oriented in between sighting forwards.
The better you can do this the less you will have to look forwards and the more you can relax into your rhythm. Theres loads of clues such as the direction of chop or waves to help. And when you breathe to the side take the opportunity to orientate yourself to the coastline, or the position of the sun, or even another swimmer (That you trust!!). Again bilateral breathing is a great skill to have as it gives you the choice to breathe whichever direction is best.
I hope this helps you swim straighter and more relaxed, if you’ve got any other tips leave them in the comments below.