How and Why to Sight in Open Water Swimming


This video aims to explain and demonstrate the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to sight in open water swimming. The thing is, any kind of head movement slows a swimmer down and that includes breathing. Whilst breathing is non-negotiable after a few strokes, sighting is an optional add on, purely to look ahead and see where you are going.

By developing the sighting technique you will perform better at open water swimming. The wrong technique would be to lift the head right out of the water “water polo drill” for a few strokes to see ahead. This is very tiring but well worth adding into training to see how it does feel.

The minimalist approach is to do “crocodile eyes” by just lifting the eyes above the surface of the water. Practice this. You may not always see as clearly but if you hone the movement you could, on a fuzzy sight, simply head back down for some strokes and sight again later. You will soon build up a clear picture of where you are and will be saving energy and swimming smoothly.

The next thing to consider is how to time the crocodile eyes. Trying to do crocodile eyes after breathing could result in you looking off to one side and distorting your perception of straight ahead. A good sighting movement involves doing crocodile eyes as your hand enters the water then turning to the side to breathe with the natural rotation of the stroke whilst lowering your head.

In open water swimming, the conditions can drastically affect your sighting. Remember your technique. If you can’t see, relax, keep swimming strong with good sighting technique. You will soon be on course.

About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: