Causes of crooked swimming:
The reasons why you swim crooked can be various. But in most cases it is really in swimming technique. Not always the nicest thing to hear, but the positive point is that you can train it (and therefore also in the pool). First, a list of possible causes:
Wave action / current:
Especially if you swim in the sea or in open water where there is a current (river, large inland waterway), you may literally drift off the course you have in mind. So if you are going to swim in water where there is a current, keep this in mind with lifeguard course near me
Lack of orientation:
Open water swimming requires slightly different skills than swimming in the pool. Not only do you have everything you have in the pool (minus the turning points), you also have the navigating part. So that requires training. After every so many strokes, look up and find a good point where you keep swimming. Right on target. The frequency of viewing in open water varies. In this blog you can read more tips about that: Open water swimming: 5 tips to get started
Swimming technique – Imbalance in your stroke:
Actually the most common. You often put a little more force with 1 arm or practice the technique just a little better than with your other arm. Because you miss the natural orientation as you have in the swimming pool (the infamous black line), you suddenly go skewed. There is an imbalance in your stroke and/or in your lie. And that causes you to go crooked. Incidentally, the most common cause of this is crosses through the midline. You don’t stick straight in (so shoulder width, straight in front), but cross over your head. Because of that crossing, your entire position will be skewed and there is therefore a good chance that you will not swim straight.
Test it for yourself: Do you have doubts about imbalance? Then try it in the pool. Go for a swim and swim 10 strokes with your eyes closed. After those 10 tricks you see where you finished. Are you still swimming straight? Or are you hanging in the lines somewhere? And if so, which way do you deviate? Left or right? Test this a few times. If the deviation is continuously in the same direction, then you know that the imbalance is in your stroke.
Another cause can be breathing on one side. That also throws your stroke (slightly) off balance. Especially if you breathe and your arm that is in front at that moment moves inwards a bit.
Tips straight swimming open water:
Now that we know what the causes can be, it is time for the tips to swim straight in open water. We deal with tips for orientation and tips for preventing imbalance in the battle.
Open water orientation:
The trick is to keep a course and not lose speed the moment you watch. In other words, don’t stop to look, but take the look with you in your stroke. If you still don’t succeed in the front crawl, then rather a few strokes of breaststroke to take a good look, than that you really stop swimming, look and swim further.
You can take the viewing in two ways:
- Watching, while breathing
- Look, without breathing
Watching without breathing is preferable. This will disrupt the streamline as little as possible. You lift your head slightly in front of you between strokes. Not far enough to breathe. Only your eyes come out of the water. This has the advantage that you do not have to take your head out of the water as far as when you combine viewing and breathing. The further your head is out of the water, the more your legs sink.
Difference breathing pool vs open water:
Is there a difference between your breathing in the pool vs open water? Yes and no. Depends a bit on the type of swimmer, experience and your goals. Shorter distances are often swum in the pool, especially in competition. So if you go for a sprint distance, the goal is to breathe as little as possible. Because even in the pool, breathing disrupts your stroke and it therefore always costs something in speed (but too little oxygen costs even more speed). During a 50m sprint, you prefer to breathe as little as possible. Often only 1 or 2 times over the entire distance.
If you can / want to breathe on both sides, then both outside and inside 1:3 is a good frequency. However, most swimmers have a preferred side. I myself swim 1:2 outdoors and 1:4 in the pool. I also use breathing in open water a little bit to keep course (keep distance from shore) and it helps in orientation in general. In addition, breathing 1:2 makes it easier for me to sustain longer distances at a stable pace. The less you breathe, the more energy it can take. Pay attention to ‘can’, because it just depends on what you are well trained in.
The reason I don’t breathe both ways is because of the nausea. The continuous turning of my head makes me so nauseous that it doesn’t pay off in terms of speed anyway. Better to breathe well and tightly on one side, than keep turning with pain and difficulty.
Learn more about breathing. Be sure to read this article: Front crawl breathing – The 6 biggest challenges (and how to improve it)