How To Train For Open Water Swimming?

How To Train For Open Water Swimming?

There are innumerable ways to optimally train for an open water swim. Here is a brief how-to of the open water swimming world:

The first step is to ask yourself several questions and determine the answers as specifically as you can:

1.What type of open water swim do you plan to do?
2.Where is your open water swim?
3.What are the expected conditions of your swim?
4.Can you expect to encounter marine life?
5.Will you have a support team helping you?
6.What kind of swim will be do?
7.Where can you train?
8.How motivated are you?

What type of open water swim do you plan to do?

The first question to answer is what type of open water swim do you wish to attempt and accomplish?

In competitive pool swimming, there is butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and individual medley. Within this aquatic discipline, there are racing starts, turns that vary by swimming stroke, sprint distance, middle distance, and long distance events. In contrast, in the global open water swimming world, there are many more choices: solo and relay marathon swimming, wild swimming, solo and relay channel swimming, Olympic marathon swimming, winter swimming, ice swimming, extreme swimming, adventure swimming, stage swimming, high-altitude swimming, polar bear swimming, aquaour or freeswimming, night (or dark) swimming, and relays

Where is your open water swim?

The second question to ask yourself is do you plan to swim in the ocean, a sea, lake, loch, river, estuary, bay, fjord, carved-out course in a frozen lake or river, in a natural or man-made waterway or lido, dam, reservoir, canal, channel or strait, basin, cove, mere, firth, sound, wadi, or harbor. The choice of your location will dictate how and where you should train.

What are the expected conditions of your swim?

Is your swim expected to be held in cold water or warm water? Will the water be tranquil or turbulent? Is it at sea level or up at a high altitude? Will you swim a dawn, dusk, day time, night time or some combination of these times of the day? An unprecedented course that you will pioneer or an established, well-marked course? Does the course have easy-to-see turn buoys and easy-to-navigate landmarks – or is the course completely free range? Will there will eddies, currents, tides, swells, waves, or fog, vog or smog?

Can you expect to encounter marine life?

Can you expect to encounter jellyfish, Portuguese man-o-war, sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, stingrays, manta rays, schools of fish, coral reefs, kelp beds, seaweed, flotsam, jetsam, or pollution including plastic, oil slicks, debris or bacteria? The air quality was be an issue or perhaps even the exhaust from the escort boat?

Will you have a support team helping you?

Do you have a coach, handler, second, escort pilot, support crew or pace swimmers? Will your spouse, parents, children, friends or teammates help you? If so, are they experienced veterans or naive newbies? Are they trained as a lifeguard, medic, physician, or at least know CPR and first aid? Can they handle a kayak, paddle board or stand-up paddleboard, or steer a boat? Do they know the course or will they see it for the first time? Have you discussed or determined what will happen if things go south? Do you have contingency plans>

What kind of swim will be do?

Racing or solo? Wetsuit or with bioprene? With equipment or no hand paddles, fins, GPS, tow float? Will you shave down or fatten up?

Where can you train?

Can you train in similar conditions to where you plan to swim? Is your swim in a domestic or an international location? Have you planned for acclimatization or adaptation to conditions in your training? Do you have little time to prepare or adequate time to train? Do you plan to work in dryland training, stretching, yoga, strength training (weight or resistance training), running, cycling, hiking or work on a Vasa Trainer or do KAATSU Aqua?

How motivated are you?

Is this a heartfelt lifelong goal of your or simple a nice-to-try swim? Are you fully committed and dedicated to prepare for your success? If you do not put in the time to train and prepare, are you willing to accept failure and notch a DNF? Do you need to gain strength, improve your swimming technique, lose weight or gain weight?

After you answer all these questions in as much detail as possible, you can set a game plan and design a short-term, medium-term, and long-term training schedule. It is important to work in enough training time and distances so you can still achieve success even if you get sick or have to temporarily skip training for work, school, family or injuries throughout your training period.

You can design a training program based on the following:

1. Short term – or what must be done today or over the next few days.
2. Medium term – or what must be done over the next several weeks or few months.
3. Long term – or what must be done over the next several months or year and beyond.

Let’s look at these three paradigms of time for the different types of open water swimmers:

1. Competitive swimmers who will be participating in races from 1 km to 25 km
2. Marathon swimmers who will be doing a solo marathon swim or channel crossing
3. Cold water swimmers who will be participating in a winter or ice swimming event or doing a solo Ice Kilometer or Ice Mile
4. Relay swimmers who will be participating in an ice swimming, marathon swimming, or channel crossing

Competitive Swimmers

1. Short-term: training daily, doing intense sets, occasional drills, and dryland training.
2. Medium-term: finalizing travel logistics, deciding upon, purchasing and training with swimwear and goggles, determining training cycles, setting goals for target pacing, intervals and distances, working on improved stroke mechanics, selecting training partners, teams or coaches, identifying potential training locations, working on mental focus, race tactics and overall strategy.
3. Long-term: setting intermediate and long-range goals, incorporating or adopting a lifestyle or education to support training towards those goals, analyzing, modifying or changing nutritional habits and dryland training, and if desired, determining sponsors or charity benefactors, doing marketing via social media platforms, websites and blogs.

Marathon Swimmers

1. Short-term: training daily, doing intense sets, occasional drills, and dryland training, working with training partners or escort crew.
2. Medium-term: finalizing travel logistics, deciding upon, purchasing and training with swimwear and goggles, determining training cycles, setting goals for target pacing and distances, working on improved stroke mechanics, selecting training partners, teams, coaches, escort crew identifying potential training locations, selecting and training with preferred nutrition and hydration choices, acclimatizing to anticipated water temperatures and weather conditions, working on mental strength, gaining or losing weight or strength
3. Long-term: identifying and arranging with escort pilot(s), setting intermediate and long-range goals, incorporating or adopting a lifestyle or education to support training towards those goals, analyzing, modifying or changing nutritional habits and dryland training or stroke mechanics and breathing technique, and if desired, determining sponsors or charity benefactors, doing marketing via social media platforms, websites and blogs.

Cold Water Swimmers

1. Short-term: training daily, acclimatizing slowly to colder water temperatures and weather conditions, doing dryland training, working with training partners or escort crew and mental focus in extreme conditions.
2. Medium-term: finalizing travel logistics, deciding upon, purchasing and training with swimwear and goggles, determining training cycles, setting goals for target pacing, water temperatures, distances, working on improved stroke mechanics, selecting training partners, incorporating ideal nutritional habits, working on mental strength, gaining or losing weight or strength, understanding and practicing rewarming techniques.
3. Long-term: setting intermediate and long-range goals, incorporating or adopting a lifestyle or education to support training towards those goals, understanding physiology during and after cold water exposure.

Relay Swimmers

1. Short-term: training daily, acclimatizing slowly to colder water temperatures and weather conditions, doing dryland training, working with training partners or escort crew and relay members in the anticipated conditions.
2. Medium-term: finalizing travel logistics, deciding upon, purchasing and training with swimwear and goggles, determining training cycles, setting goals for target pacing, water temperatures, distances, working on improved stroke mechanics, selecting training partners, incorporating ideal nutritional habits, practicing cycle of swimming then resting on boat and then swimming again.
3. Long-term: setting intermediate and long-range goals including transition from relay swimmer to marathon swimming, and if desired, determining sponsors or charity benefactors, doing marketing via social media platforms, websites and blogs.

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