Navigating Open Waters with Precision: Essential Tips for Triathletes

Navigating Open Waters with Precision: Essential Tips for Triathletes


For triathletes, open water swimming adds an extra layer of complexity to an already demanding sport. Mastering the art of effective navigation in open waters is crucial for a successful triathlon performance. In this blog, we will explore essential tips to enhance your open water navigation skills, helping you conquer the challenges that the vast expanse of open water presents. 

Understanding the Challenge:

Unlike pool swimming, open water navigation demands a unique set of skills. Triathletes must contend with factors such as changing currents, variable water conditions, and limited visibility. Navigating efficiently through open waters requires a combination of technique, strategy, and mental focus.

1. Mastering Sighting Technique:

Sighting is a fundamental skill in open water swimming. It involves lifting your head periodically to spot landmarks or buoys and ensure you're on the right course. To master this technique:

a. Practice lifting your head quickly and efficiently without disrupting your stroke. b. Choose landmarks along the course and use them as reference points. c. Time your sightings with your breathing to maintain a smooth and rhythmic stroke.

2. Strategic Drafting:

Drafting in open water is akin to what cyclists do in a pack during a race. Positioning yourself behind or beside another swimmer can significantly reduce the resistance you face, conserving energy for the biking and running segments. However, be mindful of the swimmer's pace and stay within the rules of the event.

3. Mental Preparation:

Open water swimming can be mentally challenging, especially for those accustomed to the controlled environment of a pool. Develop mental resilience by:

a. Simulating open water conditions in your training. b. Practicing positive self-talk to stay focused and calm during the swim. c. Visualizing the swim course and successful navigation in the days leading up to the event.

4. Familiarize Yourself with the Course:

Before the race, take the time to study the swim course. Note the position of buoys, any turns, and potential landmarks for sighting. Understanding the course layout can help you plan your navigation strategy and alleviate anxiety on race day.

5. Practice in Open Water:

While pool training is essential, incorporating open water sessions into your routine is equally crucial. Familiarizing yourself with the unpredictable nature of open waters will build confidence and adaptability. Practice sighting, swimming in a straight line, and adjusting to various water conditions.

6. Learn to Breathe Bilaterally:

Bilateral breathing (breathing on both sides) enhances symmetry in your stroke and allows you to sight without disrupting your rhythm. This skill is particularly useful in open water where you might need to sight on either side depending on the course.

7. Use Landmarks and Environmental Cues:

In the absence of pool lane lines, swimmers in open water must rely on other cues. Utilize natural landmarks, the sun, or even the layout of the shoreline to maintain your course. Be adaptable to changing conditions and adjust your navigation accordingly.

8. Stay Calm in Crowded Conditions:

Triathlons can be crowded, especially during the swim leg. Stay calm and avoid panicking if you find yourself surrounded by other swimmers. Maintain your focus on your technique and navigation plan.

Recommendation: Sumarpo Wetsuits - Elevating Your Triathlon Experience

As you hone your open water navigation skills, investing in the right equipment becomes paramount. Sumarpo wetsuits, certified by FINA, offer triathletes a professional edge in the water. Designed with precision and attention to the specific needs of triathletes, these wetsuits provide:

a. Buoyancy: Achieve optimal body position in the water, reducing drag and enhancing efficiency. b. Flexibility: Experience a full range of motion without compromising on the snug fit required for speed. c. Hydrodynamics: Glide through the water with reduced resistance, conserving energy for the entire triathlon.

The FINA certification attests to the high-performance standards of Sumarpo wetsuits, making them a reliable choice for triathletes aiming for excellence. The advanced materials and design ensure comfort, durability, and a competitive advantage in the demanding conditions of open water.


Effective open water navigation is a skill that sets accomplished triathletes apart. By incorporating these tips into your training regimen, you'll enhance your ability to navigate open waters with precision and confidence. As you prepare for your next triathlon, consider the professional advantage that Sumarpo wetsuits, certified by FINA, can bring to your performance. Elevate your swim leg and set the stage for a triumphant triathlon experience.