Offensive And Defensive Moves In Open Water Swimming

Offensive And Defensive Moves In Open Water Swimming

Among competitive open water swimmers and triathletes, there are numerous subtle offensive and defensive moves and maneuvers that are done or attempted during races.

Timing and positioning are often critical in these moves. Poor timing and positioning will lead to an unsuccessful attempt. But with practice and proper execution in a race, even gaining a slight edge around a turn buoy, before a wave or within a tight pack can make significant differences in edging out a competitor.

One such move is the hand-over-hand push. In this move, the offensive swimmer moves closely to his opponent and times his arm stroke so his hand just slightly after his opponent’s hand enters the water. He places his hand directly over the hand of his opponent and takes a normal arm stroke. By pushing his hand down, timed together with his opponent’s arm stroke within their collective normal arm stroke cycle, the offensive swimmer gains a slight push and advantage over his opponent. There is little or no impeding of the swimmer as the opponent is not pushed back, but rather there is an additional propulsion gained by the offensive swimmer.

The subtle move also has the advantage that it is extremely difficult to catch by the untrained eye of race officials.



The move can also, of course, be considered offensive, inappropriate and illegal by some swimmers and race officials. But, once a swimmer becomes a recipient of this hand-over-hand push move, they often wise up. Defensive (i.e., preventive) moves include veering into a competitor or blocking the arm stroke when it is at or near the apex of the arm recovery.



If seen by officials, athletes must be warned that open water swimming referees can interpret this move as impeding. As a result, referees may warn or disqualify a swimmer for executing this move in a race.

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