Higher Math For Open Water Training

Higher Math For Open Water Training

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

We always advocate thinking during pool workouts for competitive open water swimmers. The mental aspect of competitive open water swimming cannot be downplayed. Not only do you have to think about the elements – winds, waves, currents – but you also have to think about feeding, pacing, positioning and drafting relative to your competition.

The tactical skills of the world’s best open water swimmers are always something to see.

When swimmers interested in competitive open water swimming ask us what it takes, we often recommend a focus on the Pyramid of Open Water Success: Base Training + Speed Training + Distance Tolerance + Race Specific Training + Skill Training + Open Water Acclimatization + Tactical Knowledge.

Whether in the pool or open water, we encourage competitive open water athletes to train their minds as well as their bodies. Some of the pool training sets that we recommend are based on prime numbers (e.g., 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, etc.). So instead of doing traditional pool training intervals on easy-to-calculate figures like 1:00, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20 or 1:30, we occasionally do prime number sets where the intervals are 1:03, 1:17, 1:23, etc. Alternatively, we advocate intervals on 37.5, 42.5, 47.5, etc.

As any competitive pool swimmer will know, calculating your next send-off on a 42.5 interval for 50’s or a 1:23 interval for 100’s is not easy for most people. As a result, the athlete is constantly thinking and calculating in addition to maintaining proper stroke mechanics, trying to make the interval and getting your swim times. These prime number sets are taxing both mentally and physically – precisely what swimmers will face in competitive open water situations.

A few simple prime number sets for pool swimmers might include the following:

Hit the Primes: 8 x 100 @ 1:30, swim exactly at a 1:23 pace for #1, 1:19 pace for #2, 1:17 pace for #3, 1:13 pace for #4, 1:11 pace for #5, 1:07 pace for #6, 1:05 pace for #7 and 1:03 pace for #8. Teaches precise pace control.

Beat the Primes: 8 x 100 @ 1:30, swim faster than a 1:23 pace for #1, a 1:19 pace for #2, a 1:17 pace for #3, a 1:13 pace for #4, a 1:11 pace for #5, a 1:07 pace for #6, a 1:05 pace for #7 and a 1:03 pace for #8.

Descend Down: 10 x 50 with descending intervals. 1 x 50 @ 50 + 1 x 50 @ 47.5 + 1 x 50 @ 45 + 1 x 50 @ 42.5 + 1 x 50 @ 40 + 1 x 50 @ 37.5 + 1 x 50 @ 35 + 1 x 50 @ 32.5 + 1 x 50 @ 30 + 1 X 50 @ 27.5

This mental work is very valuable for sharpening the mind which is a tool craftily by the world’s best open water swimmers.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association