Have you found that despite a winter of solid progress in the pool, when you get into the open water, you fall short?
Are you looking for that secret workout or tip that will take your open water swims to the next level?
We have three of them are guaranteed to take your open water game to the next level.
- Swim more in the open water: I know what you are thinking: “That’s not really a shortcut”. But the hard fact is that many people are slower in open water than in the pool because they do not swim enough in open water. Swimming in the pool all the way up until race day is like only running on the treadmill (while taking a quick 5 s break every 200 meters). And then expecting to run a fast half marathon on rolling terrain. You improve most on what you do most frequently. Including at least one open water swim in the peak and race phase of your training will help you to a faster open water swim.
- No wall sets: Let’s say you cannot get to open water, which I know is hard for many people. Then including sets in which you do a flip turn at the flags and not touch the walls will simulate the surging aspects of races and eliminate the mini breaks you get on the wall. Be sure you either have the lane to yourself or the people in your lane are doing the same workout.
- Muscular Endurance sets: Another big factor in why people slow down in open water is strength especially in the shoulders. You need strong muscles to be able to swim continuously and resist fatigue. The best way to do this is to do long swim sets in the open water (see number 1). Or use a Vasa swim ergometer. This will not only target your shoulders but also apply steady resistance like you will encounter in open water. In the pool you have to be a bit more creative to find a way to fatigue your shoulders and swim longer. One way to do this is deck ups before or during a 200-500 m set at race pace intensity.
- Sighting: Many people lose time in open water because they don’t sight well and go off course. People have swum as much as an extra half mile in a race because they were zig zagging all over the course. To stop this, you need to sight better without breaking form. Check out our video here on some drills to improve:
- Bonus for advanced swimmers: Toys like paddles and drag suits will help with muscular endurance. And a drag suit simulates a strong current. This is for advanced swimmers only because if your high elbow catch is poor, wearing paddles will aggravate the rotator cuff and cause shoulder problems. Wearing a drag suit will also cause more harm than good if your form is poor.
There is not a magic pill to becoming a faster open water swimmer. However, these tips will give you a way to avoid doing workouts that are more for pool racers than triathletes.