How to prepare for an Open Water Race:
14 Steps of Success


Last Update: 23.07.2021 | Keelan | 7 min.
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Running a marathon is no easy feat, but running an open water swimming race can be even more challenging. Whether you are just getting into the sport or have been doing outdoor swimming for years, there are some important things to keep in mind when training and preparing for your next race.

In this open water swimming guide, we will discuss 14 steps of success that will help make your next open water race go smoothly!

Step One: Be safe in the water.

All open water swimmers should be aware of their surroundings at all times and take note of any potential hazards, such as boat traffic or large waves that may come from a storm system. If you see a hazard coming your way, calmly swim to shore if it is close by! A few steps in the right direction can make a world of difference.

Step Two: Pick a Race

First, you need to pick the race and sign up for an open water swim event! This can also be a pool swimming event, of course. Take some time to do your research so that you can find one that is right for you. Check out things like course length, water temperature, maximum swim distance, etc. The more information you have before signing up will help make sure this is the race for you.

Step Three: Start Training Early

Pick a race and sign up! Take some time to do your research so that you can find one that is right for you. Check out things like course length, water temperature, maximum swim distance, etc. The more information you have before signing up will help make sure this is the race for you.

Step Four: Set Goals

It is important to set goals for yourself before the race so that you know how hard and how long to train. Figure out what your goal pace will be on the bike, where you want to place in the swim and during each leg of running, etc., then start training! Consider the course length and water temperature to figure out what pace you should be at.

Step Five: Get in Shape

This is always a good idea, but it’s especially important if you are doing an open water race! You don’t want to start training too late, or else you will not be able to prepare for the special requirements of this event. Start by getting in shape and getting your swimming skills down pat – these can take time and practice.

Step Six: Practice Your Open Water Swimming Skills

It’s important to practice your skills before the race. For example, you should be able to swim at least a mile without stopping and be comfortable in open water so that this doesn’t become too stressful on race day. Practice makes perfect!

Step Seven: Practice Your Course

It is a good idea to practice your course before race day. This will help make sure that you know what to expect and can plan accordingly for training, equipment needs, etc.

Step Eight: Sleep

Sleep is important! Don’t forget about sleep and make sure that you are taking it easy on yourself before the race. This includes not partying too hard or stressing out (it will only hurt your performance!). Make sure that you get an adequate amount of rest beforehand, and don’t go to bed too late on the night before!

Step Nine: Determine What Gear You'll Need

There are a lot of things you will need – but it’s important not to overdo it. It is best to pack for everything and anything, so that if there is an emergency situation or course change, you will be ready. But it is also important to pack light so that you don’t become bogged down by your bag or weigh yourself down during the race.

Step Ten: Practice Your Nutrition

Nutrition can be tricky for open water races, but with practice and patience, you will find what works best for you! You’ll want to make sure you practice drinking and eating before the race so that you can find a good balance between being hydrated enough and not feeling too full or nauseated.

Step Eleven: Get Plenty of Rest

It is very important to get plenty of rest in preparation for this event! You want to avoid being tired on race day, but also it’s important to rest up your muscles and get some good sleep.

Step Twelve: Pack Appropriately

It is important to pack properly for the race so that you are prepared – but don’t let this stress you out too much! Make sure that you have everything from sunscreen, a towel, extra clothes (just in case), etc., without going crazy. Pack light – the less you have, the easier it will be to move around during the race!

Step Thirteen: Get Excited!

It is important to get excited about this event because sometimes that is all it takes. You want to make sure that you are truly committed and ready before signing up so that when race day arrives, you are ready to go!

Step Fourteen: Stay Positive

It can be tempting when something goes wrong (like swimming into some seaweed) to get frustrated and discouraged. But it is important not to let these things affect your attitude during the race because this will just make everything worse. If anything happens that is out of your control, take a deep breath and try to look on the bright side – it will be over soon!

Keelan - Enthusiastic Sea Swimmer

I'm from Dublin and enjoy swimming in the sea. I started swimming when I was 16 and have enjoyed it ever since. Additionally, I love to write articles and blog posts about swimming in open water and swimming spots in Ireland.