View Full Version : Coaching Long distance open water swimmers

May 22nd, 2010, 06:57 PM
OK you coaches and ultra open water swimmers out there, I need your expertise. One of my swimmers has just let me know she has a goal to compete in a 12.6 mile swim on Oct 16, 2010. She has done 5 mile swims and completed her last 5-mile in St Croix in 2:38. She is 35 years old. How can I help prepare her in a pool setting, her primary training ground? I'm sure we will be able to get her open water time, but what can I do to best utilize our 75 minute workouts?

May 23rd, 2010, 12:31 PM
What swim is she doing? Just out of curiosity.
I'm getting ready for my next 10-miler and have done St. Croix several times, with almost all pool training.

May 24th, 2010, 08:19 PM
She'll be swimming in the OptimisSport Distance Swim Challenge. Here is the web link: http://www.distanceswimchallenge.com/about-us.php.

May 24th, 2010, 08:20 PM
So what types of sets are you doing in the pool to prepare you for your 10-mile swims?

Kevin in MD
May 25th, 2010, 02:13 PM
Here are some things I like to work on and have people work on.
1. Long straight swims, mostly this is a mental exercise. JUst to help the swimmer get comfortable with the idea and mental state necessary to put her head down and go for 30 minutes or more straight.
2. Feeding, practice the feeds. Whatever she chooses to use, use it in practice ot make sure it is tolerable and works well for her. I use half strnegth gatorade with maltodextrin mixed in, she might like somethign else.
3. The complete opposite of feeding, in the 3 weeks leading into the swim do some workouts with no calories and no breakfast. In a swim of that length it's a pretty sure thing that she will become glycogen depleted. So doing a workout or four in that same glycogen depleted state can help on race day. She will have done it before.
4. Pulling with bands only, if the race is rough she will need a fair bit of strength to work her way through the waves.
5. Depending on how much open water practice, some sets where she practices sighting every 6 strokes might be a good idea.
6. The vast majority of set construction can be taken from "standard" distance swim sets that are around.

The other thing is to check out Marcia Cleveland's doversolo site. She has some sets on there if i recall correctly.

May 26th, 2010, 12:11 AM
Thanks for the great info! What bands are you referring to in #4?

Kevin in MD
May 27th, 2010, 11:13 AM
Thanks for the great info! What bands are you referring to in #4?

Any old kind of rubber or elastic band to keep your feet together and keep you from kicking. I use old bicycle tubes, but lots of different things will do.

Make sure the swimmer doesn't adopt a new style of dolphin kicking to help them keep their feet afloat.

June 1st, 2010, 12:55 PM
In terms of gearing up for my 10-miler, I know my training plan is not ideal. Basically, I go to Masters practice three times a week, which is terrific, and means about 5000 yards per practice with plenty of speed work thrown in.

Then, I do two days a week where I just swim distance. I did a straight 8500 this past Saturday, then another long swim on Sunday.

I would like to find a more definite training plan, but haven't put together anything that really works for me. (I also have a 9-year-old and run my own business so I have to be incredibly flexible about the times I swim, etc.) What I typically do is figure out how far in advance I want my longest swims to be--about a month out from my key race--and generally work back from there. To get ready for the long race, my longest training swim will probably be between 12000-14000 yards. The reason for that is primarily mental as doing that in the pool is god awful in terms of the boredom factor. Once you are out in the real world, much more fun!

And of course, I work on getting outdoors as often as possible--just about getting to be that time here in chilly Massachusetts.

Basically, I agree with the tips from Kevin. The sighting is especially important! I feel like you can lose a ton of energy sighting improperly.

Wish I had words of wisdom for your swimmer. I'd say--get in and swim.