Swimming outdoors involves a different skill set to pool swimming. And what better way to learn those skills and improve stroke technique than a masterclass run by open water marathon swimming legend Keri-anne Payne? Outdoor Swimmer editor Jonathan was lucky enough to be coached by the Olympic silver medallist and her husband, fellow Olympic swimmer David Carry, in a masterclass for journalists to celebrate Keri-anne’s new wetsuit launch with Zone3.
The masterclass started with breaking the stroke down into its basics, starting with breathing. David encouraged us to relax our breathing, breathing in for two seconds and out for four. “Only take as much breath as you need,” advised David, rather than taking a great gulp of air. He then set us off swimming up and down the outdoor pool at the Better Oasis leisure centre in central London before Keri-anne corrected our head position (look down not forward), body rotation and catch and pull.
Even experienced swimmers can benefit from technique advice, especially when it comes from a champion open water swimmer! Here are Keri-anne’s top tips to improve your swimming:
- To keep a regular rhythm, breath out through the nose and in through the mouth. The key is to stay relaxed and only breath as much as you need not as much as you think you need.
- To reduce your drag and keep your body in a straight line, look down and feel your legs come up behind you.
- For efficient propulsion, move the water through the centre line of the body and feel like your pulling from your finger tips and feel like you are engaging your lats.
- Don’t be scared to try open water skills such as sighting in the pool. It’s really easy to practice and will help ensure you’ve got them perfected come event day.
- Lastly, don’t try and master everything at once – work on one thing at a time. Once you’ve mastered this, move on to the next thing (otherwise your brain might explode).
The masterclass was held to celebrate Keri-anne’s new partnership with Zone3 and to launch her new wetsuit for women, designed to remove some of the barriers to participation in outdoor swimming. The new version of Zone3’s popular entry-level Vision wetsuit includes features specially designed by Keri-anne to not only make the wetsuit more flattering but also improve technique. Strategically placed ‘K’s encourage swimmers to practise correct technique (eg, brush your hand against the K on the hip, ensure the K on the shoulder is in line with the ear) while patterned patterns at the waist give a flattering silhouette. The new wetsuit will also come with a package of technique and training advice from Keri-anne and David’s Triscape coaching business, utilising their Straight-Line Swimming method.
“I am very passionate about inspiring people to take up open water swimming and what better way to do that than with this wonderful partnership between my new business, Triscape & Zone3. Having worn plenty of wetsuits in my time, being able to design my own woman's wetsuit that is both stylish and functional is a dream come true. The wetsuit incorporates my Straight-Line Swimming methodology into the design giving you maximum confidence to take on any open water swimming challenge.”
As part of the partnership with Zone3 there are a number of new products in the pipeline, including a men’s wetsuit, all of which will compliment her Straight-Line Swimming methodology, helping swimmers develop and achieve their potential.