I've mentioned before that I need to find ways to count laps and get through my swims. I use the alphabet. In the pool, I do a lap for every letter. I have transfered this to my open water swims, I use a letter for every 10 strokes, then I look up to sight and move on to the next letter and the next 10 strokes.
I use this way to pass the time, track my progress and give myself some positive self talk. Currently, my favorite letter is "I" - because of the following...
"The inches we need are everywhere" - Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday
I know that's from a football movie, but it really got to me. "Life is a game of inches". So true.