Renée Leslie is a pool and open water swimmer from the Indy Aquatic Masters swim team in Indianapolis, Indiana. The San Diego native recently got the open water swimming bug after completing the 10-mile Swim the Suck in Tennessee. “When I entered the Swim the Suck, it felt like [that distance] is so impossible.

[Swimming long distances in the open water] is such a mental challenge. When I attempted the first open water swim, I had no idea that I could do it. But then I accomplished the swim and it was addicting.”

But once she was hooked, her goals grew. Seemingly, there is now no holding the 41-year-old back. “I will attempt the Catalina Channel on August 5th. The only issue is that we can’t swim in salt water here [in Indianapolis]. But I will go a few times down to Tennessee to swim and will start getting back in the open water – in lakes around here – probably in late April when the water temperature gets to about 54ºF (12ºC) here. I will start off with 20-minute swims and then build up from there. I depend on my team and the open water community for support and advice.”

And she has plenty of company, especially with all her open water swimming and triathlon teammates at the Indy Aquatic Masters. The lakes in the area are a magnet for the passionate open water swimming community. Fast channel swimming veterans like Victoria Rian and others including Mark Spratt, Bob Dickson, Jeffrey Berridge, and Jan Johnson enable her to have plenty of swimming buddies throughout the season.

Glenna Nall, coach of the Indy Aquatic Masters, says the open water is a great draw for the 350-member Indy Aquatic Masters. “About a third of our members are either triathletes or open water swimmers. We have workouts at 4 or 5 pools in the morning (5:30-6:45 am), lunchtime (11:30 am-12:45 pm) and evening (6:00-7:15 pm). Our members include a variety of working adults, many of whom work at the University (IUPUI) or downtown Indianapolis. They like the proximity and convenience of the pool and their ability to get in a good workout before, during or after work.”

And the thrice-daily workouts are all the same across the different pools managed by the Indy Aquatic Masters. “I have been coaching here for about a year,” says Nall. “I like motivating the swimmers and critiquing their technique. Everyone is different and the triathletes are like perfectionists. But it is such a long process to go from a beginning swimmer to someone who is comfortable during a full workout and confident in the open water.”

Nall gave the following workout today in the majestic IUPUI pool:

400 warm-up
1×200@4:00 drill-swim
1×300@4:30 pull alternate breath
1×2000@4:00 kick
5×100@1:30 80% effort
4×300@4:30 descend 1-4
4×150@2:50 100 kick+50 swim
8×50@1:00 from hard to easy
Warm-down

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