Open Water Swim Skills

Most triathletes are not able to do open water training all year round due to season changes and drop in temperatures however a big problem I see with a lot of triathletes is they do not continue open water training even in the pool all year round.

You should include a open water skill session when you are not able to make it to the river or ocean.  These are just simple things you can add to a swim session
Deep Water Start: Start each set in the deep end of the pool the exact way you would start a deep water race start.
Sighting:  Every six strokes look up and look in front of you and put your head back to the correct position quickly.  The longer you leave your head out of water the more drag you create.
Drafting/irritation:  If possible, do these sessions with one or more friends.  Do a couple of sets with the focus on drafting behind and swimming closely to the other swimmer’s hip.   Do some sets where you can start a set closely next to each other.
Wet-suit:  Every now and than, do a pool session in your tri kit and wet-suit so you stay use to it and really get and keep that feel of the water in the gear you will be racing in.
Swim Session
The following is a swim session you can use to get started.  You can mix and change this around.
Warm up:
5X200 + 20sec
1) Normal f/s breathing 25m left + 25m right + 50 bilateral
2) Fins up 6/3/6 down f/s
3) Normal breathing 25m left + 25m right + 50 bilateral
4) Pull buoy as 15m scull #1 + 85m f/s
5) Normal easy f/s – nice and relaxed
Total 1km
6, 8 or 10 X 50m pull buoy + 10 sec
Do each 50m as: 15m scull #1, 10m doggy paddle, 10m fast, 15m easy
Total: 300-500
Main Set 
To simulate open water, try a deep water start for each interval and include some head ups sighting too.
Total 1500m
Cool down 
Set: 6×50 + 15sec rest, descending stroke rate by 2spm per 50m starting @ base rate
Total 300m
If you have any questions on open water skills or would like to know more about our coaching, please email


Tim Egge

swimming-cover2 (2)

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