"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
"How to Swim in a Straighter Line"
There IS a technique which can help you do this more successfully -- it is called "siting." This means that
you find stationary markers and look up at them periodically so that you can re-adjust your direction. You
will never swim in a comPLETEly straight line. The trick is to limit the degree to which you veer from the
straight line that you have chosen to take.
The more often you look up while swimming, the more often you can re-adjust and return to that line.
However, the more often you look up, the more often you break your efficient swim position (breaking this
efficient swim stroke makes you swim slower AND causes you to expend more energy/get more tired while
swimming). So, on the one hand, siting HELPS you save time by making sure that you do not swim farther
than you have to; BUT, on the other hand, siting COSTS you time by making you swim less efficiently and
therefore more slowly.
So, the trick is to create an effective ratio between how many strokes you are swimming and how often you
look up. If you are tending to go off course a LOT, then you need to create a smaller ratio -- less strokes:
more siting. The good news is that the more you practice this siting technique, the longer you can swim in a
straight line without siting.
In any given swim MANY variable factors will affect how often you have to site. And, it is very important to
realize that these variable factors will be changing constantly in each swim. Usually, at the beginning of a
swim, when the course is congested by the swimming pack, you will need to site more often (i.e. use a
lower stroke:siting ratio - for instance 5 swim strokes: 1 site). As the pack spreads out, you can begin siting
less often (i.e. use a higher stroke:siting ratio - for example 10 swim strokes: 1 site). However, if it gets
re-congested, at any point during the swim, you'll need to lower your siting ratio. Other factors such as the
strength of the current and wind, as well as the degree of "choppiness" in the water will also affect how often
you need to site. There is NO "right" stroke:siting ratio. Instead, you are seeking to find the highest ratio that
keeps you on course. And, your stroke:siting ratio is one of things that you are constantly assessing and
re-adjusting during any given swim.
In order to site effectively, you should break the course down into segments; instead of swimming the "entire
course," you are actually swimming multiple segments which add up to swimming the entire course. Before
you start swimming, stand on the beach, at the swim start, and overlook the entire swim course. Break the
swim course down into shorter, linear segments and strategize what your stationary siting markers will be
along the way. When swimming, only look ahead to the next stationary marker that is in line with the course
segment you are attempting to complete. Once you have completed that segment, begin looking toward the
stationary siting marker that will allow you to complete the next segment, and so on and so forth!
If you are experiencing an extreme degree of nausea or dizziness while swimming, make sure that you
choose stationary markers that are located on dry land rather than ones that are in the water and try to raise
your stroke:siting ratio.
Finally, when possible, use the following "Lateral Siting" technique that helps you site without raising your
head. This technique reduces nausea & dizziness AND, since it minimizes the number of times you actually
have to raise your head, it helps you maintain a more efficient/faster swim stroke. To perform this technique,
choose stationary markers that are along the swim line you have chosen but are in your peripheral/side
vision (rather than in front of you) so that you see them while breathing to your side during your normal
Freestyle/Crawl swim stroke and do not have to lift your head to site. When you pick your marker, choose
one that lies at either an imaginary 3:00 o'clock (if you are breathing on the right side) or 9:00 o'clock (if you
are breathing to the left side) position in your field of vision rather than one that lies at the 12:00 o'clock
position. As you swim, this stationary marker will shift from 3:00 to 4:00 to 5:00 to 6:00 o'clock (or from 9:00
to 8:00 to 7:00 to 6:00) in your field of vision. Once the marker reaches the 6:00 o'clock position, site by
looking up and finding a new stationary marker at either the 3:00 or 9:00 o'clock position that helps you
progress further along the swim line you have chosen.
You will site in this manner over and over again as you comPLETE more and more of the linear segments
you have created along the swim course. GREAT LUCK!!!!