View Full Version : Pool training for open water

July 24th, 2012, 04:31 PM
I have been doing open water for almost lucky number 13 years, and I think I have finally exhausted every possible way to go back and forth across a stupid pool! I get out in the open as much as I can, but the bulk of my training is still in the pool.

I train alone and am self coached. I have done most of the various Masters and other published workouts, modified them to better suit distance training, called to mind old "favorite" workouts, made stuff up...But I am getting really bored! My typical workout is 6000 yards consisting of 1000yd warm up, 500yd kicking interspersed, and 3 1500s of whatever I choose (varying strokes, paces, ladders, pyramids, odd number lengths to finish on opposite sides of the pool for variety...).

On the one hand this works for me in the sense that I cover alot of distance, am able to do plenty of open water swims, I stay injury free (shouldn't have said that out loud), manage my weight...On the other hand...I don't want to get stuck in the "garbage yardage" thing, sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, and I feel like I am missing opportunities to get better.

Any suggestions for what kind of workouts to do in the pool when my main goals are maintaining fitness and doing open water events in the 2-4 mile (and maybe beyond) range.

July 24th, 2012, 06:26 PM
Sounds like you are in the same boat as me; training mostly solo. When I do get to train with someone else, especially someone faster, it really recharges my workout. So if you're doing mostly pool training for OW in the 2-4 mile distance, maybe think about mixing in a postal distance swim or attending a local meet and doing a 1500-1650 when it's not OW season. It's amazing how just the thought of a little competition can motivate me and make me feel better about my time in the pool.

July 24th, 2012, 06:53 PM
I train alone and am self coached. I have done most of the various Masters and other published workouts, modified them to better suit distance training, called to mind old "favorite" workouts, made stuff up...But I am getting really bored!

Have you tried the online coaches' workouts, here on this site (USMS registration required to view)?
I find them marvelously inventive. Mallory Mead does the OW-specific workouts, Pat Brundage the high-volume ("animal lane") workouts, Leslie Livingston the high-intensity ("pithy sprinty") workouts. (And there are others.) All 3 are different, and complement one another. You could also read the blogs (no registration required), and work from those workouts. For any day, you have several choices of workout.

Sprinting is part of OW in training and in racing, so working in sprints in various forms should help mix things up right away. Most sprinting effort in OW pool training should not end at the wall because you can't stopand gasp in OW but must keep going after moderating the pace.

(Apologies if I am saying something you already know!)

July 24th, 2012, 08:29 PM
I do 99.9% of my training in a pool. I find it time efficient (no added travel time), and allows me to structure my workouts better for the distances I am going to swim. I don't recommend it to people because I don't know how they transition from the pool to open water. Between my Catalina Channel crossing (9/11) and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (6/12) I swam only once in open water - 2 days before MIMS. I would have liked to swim more OW but the opportunity wasn't there. I have decades of experience in open water so I can get away with this.

Having the clock available in a pool is very helpful for doing interval and pace training. What type of workout you do is based on the distance you are training for. 800m open water or the English Channel. If you are swimming a mile in OW, then train like you would for a 1650 yd race. You just need to add a couple of things if you can: water polo drills, swim shoulder to shoulder with a couple of friends, practice speeding up and slowing down, train at a strong pace and then use the end to sprint (eg swim 100s and sprint all out the last 25). You can also do just the opposite: sprint all out and then drop into a strong pace. I've also been seen turning around an imaginary turn buoy during rec swim when there are no lane lines in. I've also been seen flipping over on my back then kicking as hard as I can as I drink from an imaginary bottle (hand and arm out of the water). This has the added benefit of convincing people that I am insane so they stay out of my lane.

July 25th, 2012, 12:00 AM
I like that last one.

I have glanced at the workouts online, but I will revisit those and make an effort to use them. I also agree about incorporating sprints, and I have been working on that. I read that they actually provide a form of "rest." By forcing your fast twitch muscles (what few I have) to work, you rest your overused slow twitch muscles. Then do moderate/recovery laps to recover in your lactic acid soup.


July 27th, 2012, 02:19 PM
I've started using a stretch cord and belt for stationary swimming. It takes the turns out my pool training and raises the resistance in my stroke without using paddles. It can be boring as all heck, but you can create some little mind games as you get into the swims.

Otherwise, you need to dig into your collective creativity. There are so many different ways to change up your workouts and still get the distance in. Altering tempo, speed, distances, intervals, etc can help your performance.

Kevin in MD
August 6th, 2012, 02:33 PM
You are basically talking about self-coaching. So get yourself some coaching resources. I think "Championship Swim Traiing" is a good mix of theory and actual implementation to include a healthy amount of example sets.

You'll start to get a better feel of what is needed and should be less bored.

At first glance it looks like you aren't changing paces at all. While in distance swimming you need to just get the distance done, a healthy amount of threshold training will go a long way to getting you faster.

Also, I happened to pick up Blythe Luceros Advanced Swimming Workouts and find it to be a good resource as well.

September 12th, 2012, 03:59 AM
I too am training for OW in a pool. And I agree with the blahs of solo training. As there is quite a bit of turn over at the gym pool I use, as far as swimmers coming and going who are fresher then me, I like to challenge myself to try and beat them. If they are just starting out and I am already an hour in, it can be quite challenging and break up the monotony.

September 13th, 2012, 09:04 AM
I trained solo for 5 years (not quite 13) until my job forced a hiatus for the last year. In my last 10 months of training (5-6 times per week), I would work in 1-2 workouts per week that were less yardage (maybe 3500-4500) and imcorporated more sprints and fast swims.

During that time, I became noticably faster over distances dropping my per 100 pace by almost 10 seconds. It seemed counter intuitive that swimming less yardage would do that, but it did.

September 15th, 2012, 06:36 PM
That actually does make sense. You probably go a little faster with less yardage, and that would seem to train your body to go a little faster. I always think that unless I am doing a short sprint I just kick into my forever mode and go the same speed. But that's not entirely true. I think I do have a slightly different pace depending on the total yardage. And your body does learn to go at the pace you train. As I have increased my yardage over the years, my average workout pace has slowed. I recently added 1 day a week (when I can) of about half my usual yardage. I am going to really concentrate on picking up the pace these days.
Thanks for the tip!