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Swim Club Blog: How to be a great open water swimmer

Swim Club Swim Training Articles

The Endurance Store Swim Club provides you with simple swim training plans throughout the winter months. The plan runs October to October and is completely free. We only ask that you pre-register so that your training plans can be emailed directly.

Registration is free and you may unsubscribe at any time from the Swim Club and stop receiving updates. Overview of the swim plan be seen below, but before you start you need to complete a test to set your swim paces, then register and download the sessions. GO HERE to register for swim club.

Many swimmers are successful in the pool, but simply fail to make the switch to open water and as a result, perform badly in triathlon and open water swimming events. It's not due to a change in sport or fitness, you're still swimming and you still have all those metres of training to support you, it's primarily due to the change in environment.

Here's some of the common problems that people encounter when they swim open water:

1. They can't see where they are going, no tiles or lane ropes to follow.

2. They can't put their face in the water as they don't like cold and darkness.

3. They continually swim with their heads out of the water leading to poor balance and body position.

4. They hate other people being around them and crashing into them, it completely puts them off swimming.

5. They hate choppy water and swimming in what feels like a washing machine, especially after swimming is a pool with anti-wave lane ropes.

6. They don't like the restrictiveness of a wetsuit and they feel like they can't breathe.

7. They are so distracted by all the other people they forget to breathe and coupled with the above, start hyper-ventilating and panic.

8. The resistance of the neoprene causes their shoulders and arms to fatigue quickly resulting in awful stroke technique.

How do most people train in open water?

The initial thing to state is that most open water swim sessions lack focus. The format is generally to get into the water, swim steady for a lap of a lake, stop, decide whether to do another lap, then set off and do the same thing. This is generally done alone or in a small group which doesn't replicate events. Unfortunately, this lack of focus and lack of 'specificity' will fail to adequately prepare you for open water competition.

How should you train in open water?

1. There should be some similarity to pool training. The sessions should be structured and they should have an objective rater than a leisurely and relaxing dip (It's important to point out that there's nothing wrong with going for a gentle open water swim for the purposes of enjoyment, but this article is specifically addressing how to train for events).

2. The resistance of a wetsuit generates fatigue more quickly than pool swimming. The only way to change this is to condition yourself to hard swimming in a wetsuit. Avoid the leisurely plod, complete repeated hard efforts at race pace as you would in the pool.

3. You need to swim in a group. During past open water swim sessions I have faced complaints from people due to the fact that there are 30-40 people doing the session together which leaves little space. This is a fraction of the number you will face in an open water triathlon or swim event, you need to be comfortable swimming in and amongst others. If you only ever train on your own, then the risk of panic attacks are much greater when you take part in mass start events.

4. Look for the rough and choppy water. The drafting effect in a group is much greater, but the water is choppy and rough. Many people most away from others to find calmer water as this is more comfortable. You need to practice and become comfortable in these circumstances as they are event specific.

5. learn how to focus on yourself and not others. In open water, we spend far too much time worrying about others around us and therefore lose focus on ourselves. We forget everything we know about stroke technique and perform badly as a consequence.

Come and join us on Wednesday evenings at 3 Sisters Waterski for coached and structured open water training. You need to register in advance (free to do so), read more and register now by GOING HERE.

The Endurance Store

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