Getting out into the open water is one of the best workouts that you can do, the more you do it the more you are calm in the water. Swim parallel to the shore just outside the break, swim out around a buoy and back. Do runs down the beach and into the water to simulate starts.
There is more to swimming than just doing lap after lap, turning when you reach the wall at the end of the pool. You can swim in places with no walls - open water. Lakes, oceans, and rivers offer a great change of scenery - go to your local beach for today's workout instead of more laps in the pool. Depending on the reasons you swim, you may find it more psychologically rewarding; it can certainly be just as productive for building your fitness.
This from About.com
A few of the things to remember if you are going to swim in open water:
- There are no lines on the bottom - look for landmarks to aid navigation, but find the balance between looking too often and not looking enough.
- Put on your sunscreen - and don't forget your lips.
- Drink plenty of fluids before you begin.
- Make sure you follow the buddy system - if you are at a guarded beach, tell the lifeguards what you are doing.
- You can do any type of workout - long straight swims, intervals where you vary the intensity level, even short sprints then tread or float in place.
- It will be easier to count strokes compared to doing efforts for time or distance; 50 strokes at a high effort, 50 strokes easy, etc.
- Base your workout on time spent swimming, not how far you think you have gone.
- Stay on the safe side of distance from shore - DON'T GO OUT TOO FAR.
- If you are in a race, watch out for the flailing arms and legs of those around you - getting hit or scratched hurts, and can knock off your goggles.
- Learn to use the waves to help you ride up and slide down.
- Time your stroke so you can breath without getting splashed in the face.
- If they are allowed, wetsuits designed for swimming work - you will be amazed at the extra warmth and the additional speed with no additional effort.