Dear Great Swim Community,

My name is Jan Wolfgarten and I founded Swimazing with the goal in mind of helping people improve their swimming, no matter if you are just starting out or if you are looking to fine tune your daily training routine to reach the next level. I could not be more excited to be working together with Great Swim to further this goal.

I was a competitive swimmer myself and competed in the Great Swim Elite races from 2009 until 2012. I have always loved the atmosphere at the events and and I can tell you from experience that the events are extremely well organised! Overall they offer amazing open water swimming and racing opportunities!

Just to give you a little bit more information about myself, I am a former European short course swimming Champion in the 1500m freestyle and I won silver twice at the European Open Water 5k events. I am now here to share my experience as a coach with you and to help make you a more effecient and faster swimmer.

This is my first piece for Great Swim we will start out with something that terrifies a lot swimmers out there - the open water start. In reality it is not all the bad and if you follow these three guidelines you will see that you will be A-ok.

Look at your level

Let’s start by having a look at your level of swimming. This is a key element to where you want to position yourself at the beginning of the swim. I know it does not sound very appealing to lose 30 seconds or so right away by placing yourself further in the back but swallowing mouthfuls of water and being swam over multiple times is by far the worst option of the two. You will generally swim with other athletes who are close to your pace and everything will be a lot more smooth and efficient that way. In motor sports for example there is qualifying round to avoid chaos in the beginning of the race. The actual fastest people get to go first there. In triathlon and open water events you need to be honest with yourself or risk harming yourself and others along the way. If you feel like you absolutely need to be at the front then at least do yourself a favor and position yourself on either side of the main pack of swimmers.

Breathe to the right

That leads us to the second very important tip that I have in store for you. This one is also pretty simple. If you breath to the right you want to start your swim on the left side and vice versa. This will allow you to be able to see everything that is going on during the swim. I can tell you from my own experience that there are very few more frustrating situations than swimming hard for a couple of minutes and then realizing that you swam away from the pack. As a general rule of thumb you always want to stick to the pack even if you can tell that they are not swimming the ideal line.

Save some energy

The next thing you want to keep in mind is to always leave something left in the gas tank. An extreme example would be to blast off for the first 60 seconds of the swim and be totally exhausted before getting swam over by someone and running into trouble because of that. Make sure to get into your normal breathing pattern right away and do not over extend yourself in the beginning. Be prepared for making contact here and there with other swimmers and continue to do your thing. Keep in mind that you can only control your own behavior out there and stay strong when things happen that were not supposed to happen.

The last piece of advice I can give you is to just stay calm. Being boxed in or making physical contact are things that you cannot change so you have to adapt and deal with them. Getting too stressed about these things will only cost precious energy that you will need for the rest of the swim. I would always try and start the swim on either side of the pack but again if you find yourself in the middle just go with the flow. Your performance will always come down to proper pacing and good execution as well as a good preparation on your part. Everyone has to deal with little issues along the way but they won’t make your swim good or bad.

I am looking forward to helping your swim in the future!