Do you ever become bored while swimming an open water workout? Do you find yourself losing focus, with a wandering mind? Do you feel like you have been swimming for forty minutes, only to look at your watch and realize its been ten minutes?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Swimming in the open water does have the potential to become monotonous; however, it does not have to be.

Here are some helpful tips to add more variability and color to your open water workout.

1. Alternate between different speeds. A simple way to do this is to decide on a certain amount of strokes, and once you reach this number each time, switch speeds. For example, perhaps you pick 100 strokes; you could do 100 strokes moderate, 100 strokes fast, 100 strokes smooth, and then repeat.

2. Think of a makeshift set. Even though you are not in a pool with walls and a pace clock, it is still possible to do sets in the open water. An example of a set: if you have a waterproof watch, you can do 5 minutes of straight swimming, 30 seconds rest, 4 minutes swim, 30 seconds rest, 3 minutes swim, 30 seconds rest, 2 minutes swim, 30 seconds rest, 1 minute swim. As the swims become shorter, attempt to swim at a faster pace. If you do not have a watch, you can also do a similar set by counting your strokes; 500 strokes swimming, 30 seconds rest, 400 strokes swimming, 30 seconds rest, etc.

3. Switch up the strokes! Freestyle does not have to be the only stroke you do in open water. True, it may be harder doing backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly in the ocean (or lake, river, dam), but that makes it even more challenging and potentially fun. This will also allow you to work other muscles.

4. If you are swimming with someone else (or a group of swimmers), you can play leapfrog. Leapfrog involves swimming in a straight line, one swimmer behind another. After a predetermined amount of time or number of strokes, the person swimming in the back will sprint to the front, and take over the lead. This is a fun way to work on drafting and also allows for quick bursts of speed when you move from the back to the front of the pack.

5. If you are swimming with others, you can also swim side by side, and play a version of Simon Says. Pick one person to be Simon, and this person is in charge of the pace. At any point, Simon can speed up or slow down, and the others in the group need to follow suit. This is a great way to work on changing paces, as well as being forced to be aware of what the other swimmers in the group are doing.

With some creativity, there is no need for open water workouts to be monotonous. There are numerous ways to create variety. Since you are incorporating sets and speed changes into your workouts, you will get more out of your workout. In addition, by keeping your mind stimulated throughout the swim, you are more likely to remain focused on what you are trying to accomplish in the workout.

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