Last week I talked about how open water swimming (OWS) and pool swimming are very different, and it is hard to translate gains in the pool to gain in the open water. There is typically a small gap between your pool splits and your OWS splits, but more you swim in the open water the smaller the difference will be.
That is not to say, however, that you should do nothing but open water swims because pool swims are essential to work on speed and proper form. Since the pool is a closed and controlled environment, you can focus on key parts of your stroke and do precise distances and pace work.
To balance the two properly without losing speed but also building in the confidence in the open water, we recommend that you do an OWS once a week and pool swim three times. As you get closer to your event, do two OWS and two pool swims, being sure to include race pace and sighting work into both OWS.
Also make sure you are trying out what you are going to be wearing on race day. If your race is typically not wetsuit legal, then your OWS should be without a wetsuit if you can. The opposite is also true. Since wetsuits can feel restrictive especially around the chest if you are not used to them, you need to become comfortable with that feeling so you do not panic come race day.
Coach Chris and Kev