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Fine-tune your open-water stroke with these essential tips for wetsuit swimming from elite triathlete Tamsin Lewis

Triathlon swimming in a wetsuit

Get your head up

Practise water polo drill (head-up front crawl) in the pool and open water. It encourages good turnover and forces you to hold water. It’ll also come in handy when you need to sight in open water.

Speed up

A high stroke rate is better for wetsuit swimming. Forget doing an S-shape with your arm underwater. Avoid hand entry by the face or shoulder. Enter long. Don’t cup your hands – relax them and use your forearms to propel you forward.

Rotate well

Rotation moves you forward. The less frontal area you present to the water, the less resistance. In the pool, try swimming with a kick board between your legs in place of a pullbuoy and keep a tick-tock side-to-side rhythm.

Kick from the hip

You’ve heard it before but there is no place for bent knees in swimming. Keep your toes pointed too, so they don’t cause drag. Keep a strong core – learn how to swim with an ankle band to encourage better body position.

Find a safe pair of feet

Learn how to draft. Get used to swimming on someone’s feet. It saves up to 20% of the energy cost of swimming. The closer you are to the feet the better, but avoid tapping feet as it infuriates!

Push back

Focus less on the front of your stroke and more on the push phase. Place your hand, arch the arm over – with the elbow higher than the wrist – and push the water back. Outdoors, this water is often less disrupted than the water in front.