Racing in a pool is all about streamlining your shape in the water, maintaining stroke efficiency and then, during the race, metronomic rehashing of strategy learned from countless hours training. Top swimmers know the exact number of strokes it will take before they have to turn down the other end. They also know how many it will take on the next lap, and the lap after that.
Ocean swimming is less technical. The two key things are: getting out fast at the start, away from the maelstrom of flailing limbs, and into clear water, and secondly, plotting the best course to the beach or around the offshore buoys. After that, it’s about riding the currents and runs and ultimately, if there’s a wave, catching one home to the finish.
Two-Time Pier to Pub Champion, Cole Classic winner and Australian swim team member, Hamish Cameron, says, “the difference between pool and surf is like racing a bike in a velodrome compared to mountain biking. Less finesse, more rough and tumble. More varied skills come into play when you’re in the surf – like navigation, wave skills and running”.
- Hydrophobic, figure-compressing but non-buoyant race suit
- Shave body hair before major race
- Retain rigorous streamline body position during dive entry and turns
- Count strokes during laps
- Have a keen awareness of their pacing during a race
- Stroke efficiency helps conserve energy during a race
- Sometimes wear a buoyant wetsuit
- Rarely, if ever, shave body hair
- Getting out into clear water at the start to avoid getting thumped or held back, more important than streamlining
- Every course and condition different so no need to count laps
- Must find the rhum line to the finish and stick to it
- A nice wave at the end can take you from 20th to first in a few seconds
- A smooth stroke not as good when the surf is rough. Better to have one that can adapt and ride ocean surges.
MORE OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
- The world's biggest annual ocean race - the Lorne Pier-to-Pub