Lesson 7: Sighting


Eyes come out of the water with the nose at water level. Sighting shouldn’t be an opportunity to breathe. Sighting is just for making sure you are going in the correct direction. Your new bow wave breathing process is the most efficient way to breathe without destroying your forward speed, therefore you want your sighting to be as low as possible. When sighting you want to focus on large object across your target line, which may be a large object on the opposite shore and not the buoy.

Self Analysis: Video yourself sighting several times from the front at water level

Sensory Drill:

Rotate between 3 strokes with your head down, 3 strokes with head forward and sighting. For the first 25 yards, only lift your eyes out of the water; for the next 25 yards, lift your nose out of the water; for the next 25 yards, lift the entire mouth out of the water while breathing. Repeat this pattern of strokes and alternating sighting strokes.
FEEL: How much your hips sink as you bring your head further out of the water. Lower head = speed

Finds: Review your sighting videos


  • Does your mouth come out of the water?
  • Do you breathe while sighting?
  • Do your hips sink while sighting?

Drill #1 – Breathe low (behind the bow wave) every 3 strokes
Comprehend: It is important to learn to breathe to BOTH sides of your body before you start to learn to sight properly. Notice that after 3 strokes you will breathe to 1 side and then after another 3 strokes you will breathe on the opposite side. Not having a ‘favorite’ side will give you a better sighting pattern and allow you to breathe away from waves or competitors with ease in a race.

Drill #2- regularly practice sighting throughout your practices – cycle through a 3 stroke pattern (detailed below)
Comprehend: Your engrained sighting process should follow a pattern. The pattern should be; 1st stroke (right arm) with neutral head: roll the head up to sight as the 2nd stroke (let arm) enters and drive the front of your head down and to the side to get a bow wave breath on the same side as the 2nd stroke (left) as the 3rd arm (right) enters (stroking with right arm and breathing to left), rolling back to a neutral head as the 4th stroke (left arm) enters, followed by sighting as the 5th stroke (right) enters and breathing directly into the 6th stroke (left arm, breathing to the right).

This is a 3 stroke pattern that you need to engrain. Think ‘One, Sight, Breathe, One Sight Breathe.’ And notice that you always alternate which side you are breathing into.

Sighting every three strokes is the best way to train so you are good at it when you need it. On some courses it is easier to stay on track and you need to sight less often. We don’t agree to a specific number of strokes between sighting as this is ‘course dependent.’ As a general rule you should sight as much as every 3 and as little as every 9.

You will find it is difficult to “glide” while you support your head to sight. It is better to keep your arm in a downward angle into the catch phase while constantly stroking, not pausing to “glide.” Since you need to sight regularly, this means you should DROP any habits of “gliding” from your strokes.

Repeat: Practice sighting often as it may be the best way to cut your time (by going straighter)

Additional Details (such as entering, exiting, swimming around buoys…)
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