Tri-Swim Tuesday: Practicing Open Water Skills in the Pool

6 04 2010

I have to admit I have both open water swim envy and open water swim fear.  I read the tweets and logs of folks doing weekly, even daily open water swims.  I dream of hitting the open water for nice continuous swims, breaking in the wetsuits and practicing my sighting.  Sigh.   The closest ocean is 4 hours away, and the closest open water swim location (that I know of) is about 30 min. away.  Pretty soon the quarry will be open for Monday night open water swims and I will make the trip as often as I can, but when I do I will be afraid.

I’m not afraid of the actual swim.  I really do enjoy open water swimming, it’s the others that are swimming with me that scares the crap out of me.  Snakes, turtles, even fish – they all strike fear in my open water joy.  I guess I’m too ramped up on race day to really think about it, but for practice swims – fast breathing, staying very close to other swimmers, lots and lots of sighting – not looking for my path, but watching out for little beady eyes and slithery bodies in my path.

This morning the JMU club practiced some open water swim drills in the pool.  I have a few videos of the drills which I encourage everyone to try.  If you are looking for a swim workout today, take a look at the TRI-SWIM drills and workout page, they post monthly workouts and videos of great swim drills.

Our first drill was a sighting drill.  25 tarzan style (head up and not swinging side to side,  a little extra kick and trying to minimize your extra energy exertion), 25 sighting every 3rd stroke.

(still trying to get this video uploaded)

We also worked on drafting.  In my opinion drafting on the swim is one of the more underutilized race skills in triathlon.  I give my athletes two options, depending on their skill level and race length.  First option is to find the feet of someone that swims your same speed.  You end up conserving some good energy and still end up with the same swim time.  Second you can find some fast feet and swim at your normal race pace, ending up with a faster swim time at your normal energy expenditure.   I also believe you really need to practice your pacing to know if you have found the right feet and how to hold on and when to move on.  For this the kids worked with another swimmer (or 2) that swims at comparable pace, and then with someone that swims faster.

Finally, my favorite practice drill is the mass start.  We had to stay in lanes this time since the open area was being used, so we crammed 4 to 5 folks in each lane and hollared GO!  It was a race to the other end.  I even upped the ante a little rewarding the fastest swimmer with a bottle of Tri-Slide.  It was literally an at the wall out touch by Nicole.  Way to go Nicole! (sorry the video is sideways, I didn’t sleep enough to be operating a video camera this morning!)



One response

6 04 2010
Meghan Ling

So, if one were to be interested in tri’s and they HAD very little experience with biking and swimming but they did have running experience. Where would ONE start?

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