Open Water Swimming for Beginners

1st Aug 2018 | Written by Carolyn Reid

In recent weeks, Triathlon Scotland has held beginners open water swimming sessions for Triathlon at Pinkston Watersports Centre.

The sessions were organised and supported by Triathlon Scotland’s Participation Officer, Craigie-Lee Paterson, who is championing a range of come-and-try initiatives in the lead up to the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

Aimed at allowing people to gain confidence to move from pool swimming to open water swimming, the sessions focused on the basics and gave participants the chance to ask questions and become more comfortable in the open water at their own pace.

To get started, experienced swimming and triathlon coach Craig Coull took the group through some top tips for getting into their wetsuits. Tips included using plastic bags over your feet to allow the suit to slide up easier and ensuring that the legs and arms were pulled up as far as possible to allow maximum flexibility when in the water.

Moving into the water, participants learned how to safely enter the water, allowing themselves to get used to the cooler temperature and the added buoyancy that is given by the neoprene suits. With varying experience levels, groups split up and tackled some different challenges set out by Craig. In the water, they worked on sighting drills which got them used to the fact that there is no black line to follow in open water and they also worked on drills for breathing while others swam close by to simulate a race scenario.

The sessions had a fantastic, welcoming group dynamic that allowed participants to feel like they were supported and able to ask questions while progressing at their own pace in the water. Among the participants was Triathlon Scotland employee Patsy Craig who took advantage of the chance to get some coaching before taking on her first open water triathlon in September. Speaking about the session Patsy said:

“I had concerns that I didn’t have the swimming ability for the session as I have been swimming for a few years after a 15-year gap when I swam in school, but we were all working on the same skills within our own level of ability.  This made me more relaxed and at ease that I wasn’t slowing anyone down.”

Another participant, Derrick McInally, who attended the first session at Pinkston Watersports centre had this to say:

“I, like my friends, had never done anything like this before. We have signed up for a novice race at Tri in the Park and saw the training session advertised. The venue was excellent! I would just like to say, what a great taster/training session. Informative and good fun. The little tips and techniques were great and all done with some great humour. All staff readily assisted in making this a really fun night.”

Due to the popularity of the sessions, another one has been added and is scheduled to take place on Friday 7 September. To learn more about the next open water swimming session and to sign up to take part, click here.

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