Coaching Topic – Openwater Swimming

Openwater swimming, what do I do when I get into Openwater season?

Like the great Paul O Connell it can put the fear of God into you. Even the greatest of swimmers in pool history will tell you a tale of story about a day when something went a little wrong.
To be honest a little fear of openwater is good. Respecting the environment your training in is very important.

1. Know your location, the safest entry & exit points.
• Approximate land marks to sight off. •Distances to various points or buoys.
• lifeguard point or watcher point.

I made friends with a swimming buoy last season. A little orange float that ties around my waste and floats behind me. My buddy I call it. I must admit I do like to swim alone. It’s yoga for the swimming mind this search for openwater space after years of counting tiles. However I advise

2. The buddy systemunknown(1)
Never swim alone. ( even with the buoy )
• bring a watcher worst case
• always tell someone where your going and for how long
• organise a txt check up

Once the safety is taken care of what do you actually do when you get there ?
For me the biggest thing athletes forget is the months of learning they have invested into the pool. Hours of stroke work, kick & balance work, rotation drills, technique work. They hit the open water and just think distance distance distance!!

There is a need for that. Don’t get me wrong. The big opw swim events throughout the summer need to be built up too, but don’t unlearn all the things you have trained hard to make a habit of.

3. Practice your drills in your wetsuit or skins if your brave.
• but your own marker buoy – place it 150m out and create your own swim lane. ( or what ever distance is safe and your comfortable with)
• bring your toys to your new bath & use them! Paddles / fins / kick boards
• do your swim sets from your coach

If your swimming in a wetsuit it changes your body position in the water. You need to adapt to this and practice.
Training in your sight breathing technique is critical to successful opw sessions. Take your time and perfect this.
More on sight breathing in my next coaching post ☹️

unknownBuy two sets of the same goggles that you love.
• 1 for sunny conditions
• 1 for cloudy conditions

Last crucial bit of opw ( Openwater swimming) advice for this post is:
Never ever, ever, ever stop pool swimming if your looking to go fast. What the majority do is come
Opw season they leave the pools in search of those freedom moments and for a while everything is hunky dory but as the swim season progresses the swim speed stagnates.
You’re only ever 3-6 weeks away from getting the speed back into your stroke and body but why loose it in the first place.


• opw swim like your in a pool. Do your repeats
• swim once a week in the pool at peak tri season to maintain your developed speed.
• if your a budding international reverse that and swim once a week opw and keep your swim volume high. Dipping only for planned events
• if your an adventure swimmer – planned speed work in opw should be enough but every few weeks hit the pool again to re- aligned your habits. Maybe employ a coach to look at you. A quick video will help loads.
• don’t forget how you got to where you are – but remember to go further you must continue the journey.

Yours sports & coaching

Coaching Topic – Openwater Swimming
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