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Swim Siting
"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!!!!