Transitioning From Pool to Open-water Swimming Training

Are you transitioning from training within a pool into open-water swimming? There are various aspects of open-water swimming that cannot be mastered within the confines of a pool. For triathletes, this transition can help them get better faster.

This article will run you through everything you need to know when moving your swimming training to open-water locations.

Prep Work before You Dive In

Make sure to have the following checked before diving into open water:

  • Brightly coloured cap and safe swimmer buoy for visibility
  • A partner or group for safety
  • Permission or permits to swim in a specific location
  • Check for dangers such as high waves, boat traffic, strong currents, riptides, marine life, etc.
  • Proper swimwear suitable for the temperatures you are going to be swimming in
  • Goggles for clear vision
  • A workout course and a safety plan in case you get tired or get a cramp

Translating Your Pool Workout for Open-Water Swim Training

You can get creative with open-water swim training with a specific purpose and focus for each session. You may want to set a session for long-distance endurance training with a set starting and endpoint. You can use a GPS watch to help determine when you are done.

The key to building strength and speed in water is to create intervals and workouts. You can translate a pool workout into open-water swim training. 

There are various techniques such as converting distance to time, converting distance to stroke count, setting a known distance with buoys, or setting landmarks as start and endpoints.

Prioritise Your Form

Always focus on your stroke technique at the beginning of practice, whether swimming in a pool or open water. You can modify pool drills and include open-water specific drills. Some drills that are helpful to practise include:

  • Single-arm drills (20 strokes on the right arm and 20 stokes with the left arm) to check if either arm is crossing the centreline or if one arm is making more vigorous strokes than the other
  • Bilateral breathing to help you breathe away from the wind and waves
  • 15, 20, or 25 strokes of the fist, catch-up, fingertip drag, and 6-3-6 drills you can do on rotation

Getting Geared Up

Make sure to have these gear essentials for a better open-water training experience:

  • Clear Goggles: Clear, crisp, unscratched goggles are a safety priority when swimming in open water. You need to see well to navigate potential hazards safely. 
  • A Wetsuit Ideal for the Water Temperature: You need to be in open water longer when training than racing. You may need to be in the water for over 30 minutes, including rest periods, drills, etc.
  • Safe Swimmer Buoy: These are brightly coloured inflatable devices that trail behind you as you swim. These are designed to keep you visible as you swim in open water and can be held on to when you need a break. Some swimmer buoys are designed like a dry bag that can hold your valuables, such as your car keys, while training.
  • Course Markers: These marker buoys can help you set up your training course efficiently in open water

  • Conclusion

    There are aspects of open-water swimming that cannot be learned within the confines of a rectangular pool. Transitioning into open water swimming can help you train better faster. Make sure you have visibility gear to keep you safe as you swim in open water.

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