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What I love about open-water racing is that it’s not always the fastest swimmer who succeeds...but the smartest swimmer -- the one with the most skills.

If you can learn some basic skills, like how to stay on course...

...how to conserve energy by drafting and using an efficient stroke...

...and how to turn at the buoys...

...you’ll be able to excel at open-water swimming, and a whole new world will open for you.

As a kid, I spent my summers at the Jersey Shore, so swimming in open water is very familiar to me. I know that’s not true for a lot of swimmers, but once you conquer that initial fear and get out there and start swimming, it’s not much different from swimming in the pool.

Being comfortable in open water requires an efficient stroke and some basic skills.

In Part 1 of this video, I’ll share with you the four most important things I think about when I swim freestyle. These are the four technical points that work for me -- and that I hope will work for you.

I learned these focus points from some of the best coaches and teachers in swimming, including Dick Shoulberg of Germantown Academy, Mark Bernardino at the University of Virginia, and Bill Rose at the Mission Viejo Nadadores.

As you watch the video, remember that I didn’t learn these techniques overnight. I’ve spent thousands of hours perfecting each one, and I’m still learning.

Every time I go the pool I work on technique... so that I don’t have to worry about it when I race.

When I’m racing in open water, I don’t think about technique. By race day, technique should be automatic -- it should be on cruise control. I just want to be able to race and have 100% focus on racing and my position.

In Part 2 of this video, I’ll share with you the six most important skills you need, to feel confident in open water. These are things like sighting, drafting, and holding your own in a pack.

When you try these focus points and skills for yourself, it’s best not to think about all of them at the same time -- or try to practice all the skills in one session. Try to focus on one specific thing each day.

If you do this every day...if you take care of your technique and skills in practice...you’ll be ready to enjoy your first open-water experience...

...or you’ll be ready to just get out there and race and lose yourself in the excitement and freedom of open-water swimming.

OK. Thanks for joining me. Let’s go to the pool and look at the four key focus points that work for me in freestyle.