Sometimes you are just stuck in the middle of a huge pack of thrashing, splashing open water swimmers or triathletes clad in black. You cannot swim left and you cannot swim right. You are boxed in and cannot move from your position.
You are frustrated and you may even be the recipient of unintentional physicality. What do you do?
You have several choices.
1. Be patient. Go with the flow. Swim with the pack and relax, trying to conserve as much energy as possible. When the next turn buoy or course change occurs, the dynamics of the pack will change. This change will provide you an opportunity to move out from the middle of the pack and swim clear.
2. Check out the situation by sighting and then looking around you to your left and right. Do it a few times in order to confirm how many swimmers or triathletes are on your left and your right.
Then decide the easiest way to get out from the middle of the pack by stopping or slowing down and then taking a sharp turn either to the left or to the right. Once you make your decision, do not hesitate. You may be hit from behind, but you can cross over the feet of the swimmers around you to escape from the pack. It may take more than one of these maneuvers to get out from the middle of the pack if you are in the middle of a 4-wide or 5-wide group with several tiers.
3. Submarine. Take a big breath and go underwater beneath your opponents. It may take only a few seconds to go underwater in order to get out from the middle of the pack. It may get you a bit winded, but the effort will be worth it.
Either way you can get out from the middle of the pack, you will be in a better position if you swim at the edges of a giant pack rather than in the middle at its core.
Remember you can be patient and make your move out of the center when the course changes direction. Or you can be a bit more radical and stop and then turn to swim perpendicular or diagonal out from the center of the core. Or you can be really radical and submarine your way to clear water. They all work.
Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association