I’ve talked about swimming in the pool and my typical 2000 yard main sets, but swimming in open water is at least as important. I think the benefit to regular open water practice is primarily mental, but there are some physical skills that can be developed as well.
Where I live, there are a few lakes in the area to go swimming in and Jordan Lake is generally the shortest drive. Last Friday morning, I met up with Stacey Richardson and Alex McDonald to get pushed into swimming harder than I would by myself. Unfortunately, Alex got trashed by a wicked tough pool workout the day before, so a fresher Stacey kicked my butt all over the lake that morning.
What we did:
- Easy warmup for a few 100 yards.
- Build to moderate out to buoy in the cove (~1000 yards?).
- Rotating paceline – pass from the back and hold the surge for 10 strokes or so, relax, etc. Did this maybe 8-10 times?
- Steady back to Alex (~300 yards?)
- 2x~500 yards tempo (I was barely hanging on Stacey’s feet for these)
- Easy in to the shore warm down.
Total swim time was around an hour. My distance estimates may be off. I forgot my stopwatch this time so don’t even have that data, but Alex had a handy dandy Timex so keep track of total time.
Rationale. Unless pushed, I tend to swim medium-steady the whole time when I’m in open water. That’s all fine and good when paired with pool workouts until I get to my peaking period.
I’m in my peaking period now, so it’s important to nail key workouts hard and if I want to swim fast in a race, it behooves me to swim some fast open water. If I don’t, I’m likely to fall into lazy swimmer mode waiting for T1 before I start racing in earnest. I could get by with this approach in the Halfmax race, but not so much at short course Nationals. There are some women that can R I D E ride and R U N run, if you know what I mean. This business of slacking the swim, riding to the front and hanging on is a questionable technique against some of the top amateur talent in the country.
So that’s my workout of the week.