How to train for an open water swim competition in the swimming pool


Guest post by Chelsea Potter / Sports Direct

Training for an open water swim events needs to be taken step by step. First you master your stroke and adjust to the distance in a safe and warm environment. Alongside this you take up gym sessions and learn to control your diet. After all of these have been perfected, you then take steps to adjust to the freezing conditions of open water swim. I’m going to give you some tips on the first stage of starting preparation in the pool and explain why it’s important.

EZ Open Water Swim

Firstly let’s start with the importance. If your stroke isn’t perfect in the pool, if you haven’t attempted the distance previously, if you can’t control your breathing, you will not last long in open water. Open water swimming is cold and carries many risks so before you even start to think of competing in open water events, you need to perfect your technique and make sure you’re ready.

Swimming long distance carries a toll and if you’re front crawl isn’t up to scratch it could seriously hinder you. Forgetting about the physical risks, the bad technique will slow you down and prevent you coming top against the competition. You need to master your stroke so get someone to watch you and give you pointers. You can also measure the amount of strokes per length and try lessening the number while still maintaining the same pace.

Another benefit of the pool is you can get used to the length before testing it out in cold water. You can put your feet down and regain your breath while adjusting to the length but ensure you can complete the full measure without before competing. Another tip would be to go the extra mile and push yourself a bit further than the race quantity so you know you will be okay in the event. Plus open water swimming is windy and wet so the force pushing against you will make you work harder. If you train harder in the pool, then you won’t feel too tested in the event.

Practise looking straight ahead while training in the pool. In the pool your lanes are marked by ropes but in open water, it can be harder to see where you are going. Start your lengths in the deep end to get used to treading water as there will be no wall to kick off in the open water events.

Also practise with limited space. Ask a few friends to swim in your lane so you know what it’s like in the competitive open water environment where people have limited space and there is no lane structure.

Other benefits include controlling your breathing and improving your agility. Training in a short pool where you have to flip often gets your body used to changing direction quickly.

Training in the pool is the tester for whether you are ready for the events. You may have to spend a lot of time practising but the consequences associated with open water events are too dangerous to miss out this stage. For swimming aids and more tips, take a look at our swimming section here

Image courtesy of terren in Virginia, CC BY 2.0

About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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