Tips on Competing in an Outdoor Pool

One of my Facebook followers asked me for some tips on competing in an outdoor pool. I have to be honest and admit since I live in Canada (where today it is -40 Celsius) I did not have the opportunity to compete outdoors. However, I did have some outdoor training camps and I coached a team at the US Open one year. I would love those coaches and swimmers who do compete outdoors to add comments below and on my Facebook page to help out.

Here it goes 12 things to consider when competing in an outdoor pool.

  1. Without goggles underwater is very clear especially when the sun is shinning.
  2. Often there is nothing overhead to “line up” with so you may find figures and anything else done on the back challenging. Coaches on day one put back crawl in the warm-up to watch zig zagging.
  3. If it is hot, avoid the direct sunlight to the head. You do not want heat stroke. This goes for coaches and athletes. Wear a hat(and sunglasses for coaches) Even cover up skin to avoid burning. Shammy towels work well and they can be dunked in the pool to cool you down.
  4. If it is cold outside it will be really cold for coaches and swimmers. You may need a swim parka.
  5. Be careful with sunscreen as it makes your nose slippery and your nose clip may slide around.
  6. Same as point 5 except highlight people need to be weary that sunscreen and cream can make them slippery to stand on, jump off or hold on to.
  7. In the heat drink more water to avoid heat stroke.
  8. If the swimmers are not used to the sun, they may be obsessed/distracted with tan lines. Remind them ahead of time the purpose of the competition.
  9. If it is hot, the competition times may be a lot earlier than you are used to. The competition I attended started at 6:30am!
  10. Gel melts in the heat, so limit the amount of time in the sun prior to competing.
  11. The sun makes swimmers squint so they need to think about opening their eyes when on their back and when presenting to judges.
  12. The music above water may be hard to hear depending on the music system and facility because the sound can travel everywhere. Music systems overheat too and you may be waiting to compete.

That’s all I have for now. I encourage you to share your tips below or over on The Online Synchro Coach page. I would love to hear what you have to say.

Yours in Synchro,

Vanessa Keenan

Photo from Photo by winnond.


  1. Jackie Hiscock on January 27, 2015 at 11:18 AM

    Hey Vanessa!Sounds like things are going very well with you. Congrats on the new book. I am sure it will be a hit! Love your column…I refer everyone I know in synchro to it! I also use a lot of info myself…its been a while since I was on that side of the deck!

    Back here in NL has been a challenge, to say the least. I am Head Coach for the Canada Games Team…by default, as no other coach in the province applied for it, but all the clubs wanted a team…go figure. Don’t get me wrong, the girls are great…parents, another story altogether. We are all working hard to prepare for this meet to present a competitive team, not one that just shows up. The Team NL performances at the Games in 2011 left a lot to be desired and then some.

    Here in the final month of prep, I am at a loss on how to “bring it up a notch”. The girls know their routine, they just aren’t “crisp”. We do “bang” drills til I think my arms will fall off…things look good…then with the music, old bad habits kick in. You know me, I tell it like it is…no false praise…but trying to keep a positive spin on things is wearing me down.

    Any suggestions for “new” drills…cue words…anything to try will be greatly appreciated. During the week the girls train with their own clubs. I have them for weekend “training camps”…2 hours on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday. Not ideal, I realize, but we are making the best of it.

    Thanks again! Hope to see you soon!



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