How To Train For Open Water Swimming In A Pool With Coach Joe Zemaitis

How To Train For Open Water Swimming In A Pool With Coach Joe Zemaitis

How To Train For Open Water Swimming In A Pool With Coach Joe Zemaitis

Including an Exclusive Module on Swimming Alcatraz

Ready to transition from the pool to open water?

This course is led by the renowned coach and open water swimmer Joe Zemaitis. It is designed to help swimmers and coaches move from pool swimming to the open water. His philosophy emphasizes building confidence and competence in every swimmer. It makes the tough shift from pool to open water both manageable and rewarding.

The course has a special section to help you prepare for Alcatraz. It also is full of useful tips for open water swimmers of all levels.

Whether you’re preparing for a local open water event or the iconic Alcatraz swim, this course provides the knowledge and skills to build confidence and competence in any open water.

You will learn about the essential skills, from sighting and buoy turns to adapting your stroke for choppy conditions and overcoming mental barriers. With Joe’s guidance, you’ll gain the confidence and competence needed to tackle any open water scenario.

This course also features a special section dedicated to the legendary Alcatraz swim, offering insider tips on navigating tides, identifying landmarks, and handling the unique start from the boat. Joe’s expertise offers invaluable insights and training that can help you “escape” your limitations and achieve your goals.

Embrace the challenge, master the techniques, and swim with confidence under the expert guidance of coach Joe Zemaitis.

Module 1: Introduction to Open Water Swimming

  • How do you transition your athletes from pool swimming to open water, given the distinct differences in environment and condition?
  • What are the big differences and what do swimmers need to prepare for in open water?

Module 2: Essential Open Water Skills

  • What specific skills are unique to open water swimming?
  • How important is sighting and how do you practice it?
  • How do you simulate or practice turns around buoys in a pool or open water setting?

Module 3: Breathing Techniques

  • How do you recommend bilateral breathing and adapting to breathe on both sides?
  • Tips for someone struggling to breathe to a weak side.

Module 4: Adapting Stroke Techniques

  • Recommendations for adapting the stroke to swim through choppy water.
  • Adjusting stroke rate for different types of conditions.
  • Strategies for maintaining a straight line and swimming straight.

Module 5: Mental Preparation

  • Overcoming mental barriers and fears about open water swimming.
  • Drills and techniques for practicing navigation and orientation for open water events.

Module 6: Alcatraz Swim Preparation

  • Preparing athletes for the unique aspects of the Alcatraz swim.
  • Preparing for the experience of jumping off a boat to start the race.
  • Navigating different tides and identifying the right landmarks during the Alcatraz swim.

Module 7: Race Day Strategies

  • Advice for navigating pack swimming in a crowd.
  • Techniques and benefits of drafting in open water.
  • Advice for the finish of an open water swim, including beach finishes.
  • Rules of thumb for transitioning from swimming to running in a beach finish.

Module 8: Overcoming Fears and Physical Challenges

  • What makes the Alcatraz swim special and how to overcome the fear of marine life.
  • Dealing with swallowing saltwater and feeling nauseous during a swim.
  • Addressing dry heaving and panicking.

Module 9: Training and Preparation

  • How much pool training is needed to prepare for different open water distances.
  • Preparing for swimming with children or less experienced swimmers.
  • Training for cramping issues and how to handle them in a swim.

Module 10: Injury Prevention and Management

  • Handling bad cramps during a swim and whether it’s possible to continue.
  • Dealing with shoulder pain and rotator cuff issues during long swims.

Module 11: Useful Gear and Final Tips

  • Recommended products like paddles and snorkels for transitioning to open water.
  • How to deal with swimming in currents.

Joseph Zemaitis

Open Water Swimming

Joe Zemaitis is currently one of the world’s most prolific Open Water Swimmers.  He has the most documented miles swum in open water since 2018.  He was the first person to complete the Triple Crown of Stage Swims (totaling over 300 Kilometers across 14 stages).  He has twice been nominated as the Open Water Swimming Man of The Year (2020 and 2021).  Some highlights include the World Record Longest Lake Swim (multi-segment) of 112K in 47 hours 23 minutes,  the English Channel, Double Catalina Channel (42 miles), Double Circumnavigation of Manhattan (57 Miles), Loch Ness (22 miles), Double Seas of Galilee (25 miles), Double Round Trip Angel Island (20 Miles) and many others.


With sixteen years of competitive swimming experience and international accolades as a Pro Triathlete, Joe Zemaitis brings a lifetime of experience in competitive sports to his work with young people. Joe’s philosophy is rooted in the firm belief that every child has a genius—a natural talent that, when recognized and unlocked, paves the way to a lifetime of success.

In 2002, Joe launched Swim Neptune, a year-round competitive USA Swimming Club that has grown to include seven locations across the Phoenix metro area and rural Arizona and continues to nurture young swimmers in pursuit of their competitive goals.  Swim Neptune placed 6th at Junior Nationals West in 2021 (men).  1st Place combined and 1st place Men’s team at 2022 Northwest Sectional meet.    Arizona Senior State Champions in 2021 and 2022 (Men’s and Combined) and seven Age Group State Championships since 2010.

He was twice selected by the American Swim Coaches Association as the Arizona Swim Coach of the Year. Swim Neptune swimmers have set over 75 Arizona Age Group State Records and recorded over 200 USA Swimming Age Group Top 10 time in the past twelve years.

In 2006, Joe coached Braxton Bilbrey (then age 7) to be the youngest to swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco.  Braxton’s goal was the foundation of the Swim For Aquatic Safety and Training (Swim FAST) an event conducted each year since 2007 by the Neptune Swimming Foundation to raise money for water safety and drowning prevention efforts.  The theme of the event is Escape Your Limitations and has seen hundreds of young swimmers age 9 to 18 swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco, then the next day across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Joe is also the current Admin Vice Chair and incoming General Chair of Arizona Swimming.  He is the Chairman of the International Ice Swimming USA.  He has swum the Ice Mile (swum a mile under 41 degrees).  He as a 4x All American and 2x Junior National Champion in Triathlon, representing the USA in ten world Championship events.  At 18, he was the youngest to ever break ten hours at the Ironman Hawaii.

Joe enjoys traveling around the world.  He has been to six continents and thirty Countries including competing in fifteen of them.  He runs every day and has an active streak of over 2,350 days where he has run a least 20 minutes a day.