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A Few Tips For Beginner Open Water Swimmers

13 March 2019

Matt Neely
MySwimPro Ambassador Matt Neely gives us some top tips for getting started in open water racing.

Open Water Swimmer Matt Neely had been a pool swimmer his whole life, competing at both a club and collegiate level. After a lengthy swimming career that was all about chasing the black line, followed by a 10-year break from swimming, Matt decided to try his hand at open water swimming. Both MySwimPro and Funky Trunks helped motivate Matt with his training, allowing him to transition from a rookie whose first race was cold, rough and miserable to someone who recently completed the 1.25 Mile Alcatraz Swim.

If you're interested in taking the plunge into open water racing here are Matt's top tips for your first race.

Matt Neely
Matt Neely ready to jump in with his Funky Trunks and MySwimPro ready!

Before the race, look at all the surroundings and find key spotting markers.

Look for big things like trees or houses that line up with different parts of your race. This will really help you if you do find yourself off course (and you will) and need to reorient yourself. Don't be afraid to stop your stroke for a few seconds and get your bearings. Another thing to figure out is where the sun will be when you're headed for the finish line. Often the sun will have moved and there's nothing worse than being blinded by the sun and not being able to see where you're swimming.

Never, ever, ever try something new on race day.

Be it what you consume prior to the race to new equipment or a new race strategy, leave it for a training swim. When I swam Alcatraz, I had had issues with chaffing on my neck from my wetsuit leading up to the race. On the morning of the race, a fellow swimmer saw how chaffed my neck was from my training swims and offered a large waterproof pad to help protect my neck. It may seem inconsequential, but I've learned the hard way that simple things like that pad could potentially throw off my breathing rhythm. I kindly turned down the offer for the pad but did get the name brand of it and look forward to trying it with my wetsuit during a training swim.

Most importantly, enjoy the race.

There is truly no other sport that is as healthy and beneficial as swimming that can be practiced for a lifetime. I'm amazed at how many 60, 70 and 80 year olds compete in open water races. The ability to get outside and into nature is an awesome way to disconnect and destress. You'll start looking at bodies of water and thinking, "I can cross that."

There is definitely a learning curve and transition period, but hopefully some of these tips will help make the move to competing in open water races easier. Ready to take on 2019? Grab yourself some new Funky Trunks and find out how MySwimPro can help you meet your training goals on their website by clicking here.

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