10 Quick Tips for Swim Sighting

Swim Sighting Technique – The Basics

Open water swim sighting is an essential skill to up your game in both triathlon and distance swimmer events. Here is some basic advice for beginners looking for a way to get started developing their approach to leveraging the benefits of practicing informed swim sighting.

Here are 10 quick tips.

Pre-Race Swim Sighting Tips

  • Tip 1 Use polarized swim goggles: Polarized lenses reduce the annoying glare present in sunny conditions, restoring definition to your field of vision.
  • Tip 2 Treat your lenses with anti-fog spray: No matter how good a swimmer you are, without clear vision, you’re bound for trouble. Check to see if your goggles still have their anti-fog coating. If not, treat them before race day so you’re prepared.
  • Tip 3 Know the swim course: Try to do your swim training on the actual swim course and learn shore landmarks. Sighting the finish relative to larger marks (trees, houses, etc) will help you stay on course, saving time and energy.

Swim Sighting Tips For Race Day

  • Tip 4 Keep your head low: If conditions allow, lift your head from the water just high enough to raise your eyes above the surface and quickly scan your swim course position and surroundings.
  • Tip 5 Swim a straight line: Many beginners tend to string the buoys together, using a series of line segments to plot their course instead of a straight line. Choose a straight line that keeps your swim within the legal swim marker buoys, instead of bouncing to buoy to buoy.
  • Tip 6 Use other swimmers to sight: Following other swimmers instead of doing your own sighting can be risky on longer courses, but is especially useful for a quick check to see if you’re still on target. Swimmer feet and swimmer bubbles make excellent targets that are easy to see underwater in most conditions.
  • Tip 7 Sight from on high: When it comes to sighting, it pays to take the high road. Under rougher conditions, execute your sighting on top of the waves, not in the wave trough. The higher you are on the wave – the more you’ll see.
  • Tip 8 Breath strategically: Breathing should not be done during forward sighting, combining the two encourages swimmers to lift their heads higher than necessary, creating considerable drag and breaking good swim stroke form.
  • Tip 9 Don’t slow down: Don’t disrupt your stroke. Learn to keep your stroke moving and increase your swim kick effort during sighting, to make sure your lower body stays in a horizontal plane, without dropping deeper into the water and slowing your progress.
  • Tip 10 Pace your sighting: Develop your system for frequency of sighting. Ideally you should be able to swim in a relatively straight line for 20-30 second intervals, but more frequent sight checks may be required to build towards this goal.

I hope these basic tips are helpful – please let me know what you think – or share some of your favorite tactics for better sighting!

Best of luck,


PS. Be sure to check out my other posts on open water swimming and triahtlon training:

  • Open Water Swim Safety
  • Lap Swimming Etiquette
  • Safer Swimmer Open Water Swimming Buoy Review

Learn More Swimming Tips:

About Robin Kiefer

Robin Kiefer is the Grandson of Adolph Kiefer, the Founder of Kiefer Swim Products. Today Kiefer Swim Products is a multifaceted company focused on serving the aquatic industry, lifeguards, and swimmers.

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