Its getting to that time of year again when the lakes are warming up and its time to start introducing some open water training into your schedule. In this short blog I will look at the benefits of both pool and open water training and look at how much of each I think you should be doing, and what you should be doing in them. Lets start with a quick look over the positives and negatives of each:
Open Water Advantages:
I often ask this question to people...
'What does your typical open water training session consist of?'
This is the answer 90% of the time...
'I swim 2-3 steady laps.'
Personally, I can't think of a swimming session that has any less focus on improving your performance!
So what should we be doing?
With pool training, most swimmers with a good coach or training programme, tend to have structure to their sessions. We might work on speed, technique or endurance at certain parts of the session, or focus on a particular technique aspect.
In open water, its very common for people to just get in and 'plod'.
Top triathletes and even elite open water swimmers do very little of their training in open water. Once you are comfortable swimming open water there is little benefit from training in it over the pool. Obviously for a swimmer new to open water, we definitely need to be getting down the lake and getting comfortable.
My advice for open water training:
Make it specific!
How much Open Water should I be doing?
Depending on your experience I'd recommend the following:
If swimming 2 times per week = Err swim 3 times per week!
If swimming 3 times per week = 2 pool + 1 open water
If swimming 4 times per week = 3 pool + 1 open water
If swimming 5 times per week = 3 pool + 2 open water
When should I start my Open Water training?
There is a VERY simple answer to this...
When you can swim comfortably enough to do something productive!
Absolutely no benefit of rushing down there all excited in the first few weeks, swimming 200m, and getting out like a shivering wreck. If anything you are going to give yourself a bad experience and make things harder. Start your open water training when its warm enough to make sure you can breathe properly, stay in long enough to do something productive and most of all ENJOY IT!