Friday, June 20, 2014

How to Practice Open Water Swimming in the Pool

Another great one from Training Peaks
For the majority of all triathlons you will be swimming in open water. This is typically a source of anxiety and fear for many athletes as training for the open water is often limited. While not perfect, it is possible to prepare for race day in a pool? Here are some drills and games that you can do in the pool to be prepared.


The first, and perhaps most obvious, thing you can do in the pool is to practice sighting. In a short course pool (25 yards or meters) pick your head up twice each lap and sight on something at the end of the pool. In a long course pool, sight at least five times per lap.
What’s most important here is that you don’t just go through the motions. Be sure you actually focus on what it is that you’re looking for. You can even have a lane mate at the end holding up fingers for you to read.

Swimming Straight

How often should you sight? Well, that depends on how straight you swim. When you’re in the pool, going fast is what gets you to the next wall more quickly. In open water, speed is not enough. It’s your velocity plus your trajectory that determine how quickly you get into T1. In a lane by yourself, push off the wall and swim with your eyes closed. Can you make it to the other end without hitting the laneline? (Make sure you know your stroke count so you can open your eyes before you get to the wall if you happen to make it all the way down the lane!) If not, how far can you go?
If you start in the middle of the lane and drift to one side by the other end, that’s not too bad, but you’re still off course about a meter over a length of 25 meters. If you’re consistent, that would work out to about 20 meters off course every 500 and then double that because you’ll have to swim back onto the course. So that might cost you 30 to 60 seconds every 500 meters. But what if you hit the lane line after only a few strokes? You might be costing yourself several minutes over 500 meters. The solution is sighting. If you can swim four strokes before veering off course, you should be sighting every four strokes. If you stay on course through 10 strokes, sight every 10.
Now put these two elements together. Swim with your eyes closed but open your eyes to sight every 4, 6, 10 strokes. Now can you make it down the lane in a straight line? You’re onto something important! Sighting may slow you down a bit, but it’ll keep you in a straight line—that makes for a faster swim split.