Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

Pyramid of Open Water Swimming Success Open water swimming becoming more popular and more competitive, especially after the addition of the 10K Marathon Swim to the Olympic Games and the explosive growth of triathlons. You can become a more successful open water swimmer and triathlon no matter what your age, ability or experience is – especially if you follow the Pyramid of Open Water Swimming Success. There are 7 essentials to open water success, whether you are aiming to do a 1-kilometer swim for the first time, cross the English Channel or win the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim. The cornerstones of the 7 Essentials of Open Water Success include Base Training, Speed Training and Distance Tolerance. These training fundamentals are rooted in the distance pool training methodologies used worldwide since the early 1970's. Additional components include Race Specific Training, Skill Training, Open Water Acclimatization and Tactical Education. These training and skills will provide you with the knowledge and understanding of what to do in a dynamic environment where your competitors and the water conditions are always in a state of flux. In competitive open water swims, you need to plan for, anticipate, adapt and respond to the ever-changing environment. The first essential is Base Training. Get in shape during pre- and mid-season by swimming hundreds of miles through daily and repeated aerobic training sets (e.g., 6,000 - 10,000 meter workouts). The second essential is Speed Training. Improve your speed by focusing on up-tempo swims including anaerobic training sets. The third essential is Distance Tolerance. Develop your ability to swim the specific distance of your chosen open water distance (e.g., 1500 meters, 10K or 20 miles). The fourth essential is Race Specific Training. Simulate open water race conditions in the pool or acclimate yourself to such conditions during open water training sessions. This includes pace-line sets, leap-frog sets and deck-ups. Pace-line sets are where groups of swimmers closely draft off of one another in the pool, changing pace and leaders throughout the set (e.g., 3 x 1000 with a change of leader every 100). Leap-frog sets are where the last swimmer sprints to the front of the group every 100 meters. Deck-up sets (e.g., 10 x 100 @ 1:30) are where you must immediately pull yourself out of the water and dive back into the pool after every 100. This simulates on-the-beach finishes when you are swimming horizontally for a length of time and then must suddenly go vertical to run up to the open water finish. Deck-ups also assist you to make quick tactical moves during a race or in response to unexpected tactical moves by one's competitors because there are often heart rate spikes during a race.

Copyright © 2008 by Steven Munatones

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Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

The fifth essential is Skill Training. Teach the fine points of open water racing techniques requires feedings, sightings, starts, turns, positioning and navigation practices during pool practices and in the open water. For feeding, you should place gel packs in your swimsuit to practice fluid in-take during your main sets. For navigation and sightings, you can do a set like 6 x 400, but you must lift up your head twice every fourth lap to sight balloons on the pool deck, moved around by the coach. For turns, you can touch the wall, without doing a flip turn or pushing off the wall, during the last 2 laps of 5 x 200. For drafting, three swimmers can swim together with one swimmer slightly behind drafting for a set of 9 x 300 with a draft every third lap and descending by groups of three. To replicate start and finish conditions, you can sprint short distances (25's or 50's) with three swimmers per lane starting at the same time. The sixth essential is Open Water Acclimatization. Especially important for newcomers, water acclimatization is required to get swimmers familiar with the open water environment. This includes getting used to cold water, warm water and rough water. This also includes experiencing jellyfish stings, observing marine life up close and swimming through surface chop, boat fumes, oil slicks, kelp, fog, rain, waves and currents. It also includes aggressive swimming sets when a group of swimmers in a tight pack practices buoy turns and finish sprints where your teammates purposefully knock off the goggles or swim cap of each other. These types of experiences are all parts of open water races at one point or another. To be successful, these experiences must be encountered and mastered during training. The seventh essential is Tactical Education. Most importantly, you should study and understand the dynamics of open water racing (or solo swimming) and know why and how packs get formed and why they take on certain shapes. You must understand, for example, why and how packs get strung out, where you should tactically place yourself in the pack at different points during the race and the importance of hydration and feeding station techniques. These tactics should be reviewed while observing successful open water swimmers through film so questions can be asked and different scenarios can be studied.

Copyright © 2008 by Steven Munatones

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