seven strokes. This can be done in any combinati on. for open water, breathe to the right for 20 strokes and then alternate. or breathe every three for 50 strokes, then every fi ve for 50, and so on. Sighti ng: Sighti ng is criti cal in the open
water when you don’t have perfectly clear water, a lane line on the bott om of the pool and lane ropes guiding your path. In the pool have your athlete sight 2-3 ti mes every 25m length. To add diffi culty, tell them to close their eyes, and open them only when lift ing their heads to sight. This may lead to chaoti c practi ces as your swimmers veer off -course, however it will teach them to correct course quickly. Minimize the risk of collisions by giving a set of 25s, reducing two-way traffi c. open water drills can be similar: blind
swimming toward an assigned buoy will help identi fy which of your swimmers tend to veer, which can be harder to identi fy in the pool. It is always fun to have them go one at a ti me so others can see how quickly we can go off course. nominate a lead swimmer and a chasing pack with instructi ons to sight every 10-20 strokes. The lead swimmer should choose a random course, forcing chasing swimmers to sight properly in order to stay on course. failure to do so results in push-ups or butt erfl y sets. finally, head- up swimming (water polo stroke) can help your swimmers adapt to the extra strain of sighti ng.
RACE PREPARATION Swim start: first off , are your swimmers
starti ng in water or on land? for beach entry races, practi ce sprinti ng from land and teaching your swimmers to get into their rhythm while out of breath. Do 10x25 sprint to the water and then 25 strokes fast. This will help your athlete with the initi al high tempo of the race. It is important to remind them to swim their own race, to start steady at their pace, not the pace of the swimmer beside them. You can practi ce water starts by getti ng
your swimmers to bunch together closely and race to the nearest buoy aft er your whistle. In a pool, have all of your swimmers start in the same lane and swim laps as a group. If you have the luxury of multi ple lanes or the enti re pool, have them swim up one lane (e.g. lane 1) and down the next (e.g. lane 2) and so on to lane eight. each lane will be one-way traffi c but the disorganizati on
should replicate race day conditi ons. Finish: have swimmers exit the water
and sprint 50-200m accounti ng for varying distances to transiti on zones. have them swim between two landmarks, exit the water and jog back to the starti ng point. Mix in squats and burpees to get the legs and lungs working — and for your viewing pleasure. T1 practi ce: Aft er swim practi ce have
them exit the water and launch into some high tempo running and/or exercises such as burpees, squats or push-ups to replicate the sprint to transiti on. Aft er practi ce make them towel off and change quickly (less than 90 seconds) to simulate rapid transiti ons. Mental skills: half the batt le of open
water is managing your brain and its desire to panic. equipping your athletes with mental strength to deal with unpredictable and uncomfortable conditi ons will help them cope on race day. Teach them to relax when swimming, to positi vely self-talk and to concentrate on their stroke. Exhaling fully will help them relax and ensure they don’t hyperventi late or fati gue their muscles through lack of oxygen. The very practi ce of open water swimming will give the the athlete the experience to handle imperfect conditi ons not seen in their local pool. Workouts: keep workouts varied by
including out-and-backs, swimming for set ti me intervals or stroke counts, between landmarks, etc. for example:
• Warm up for 5 minutes out, 5 minutes back
• 1 minute hard swimming, 1 minute easy, parallel to shore
• Swim hard for 50 strokes, moderate for 10 strokes and repeat
• Timed eff orts working between piers, each repeti ti on faster than the previous
Speed work: Add speed work as race day
gets closer. All out sprints between buoys with rest, like 100-200 yards 100-percent eff ort sprint with 1 minute rest to allow for good recovery. “Indian sprints” allow for practi cing variable speeds. In the pool, vary fast and easy distances, perhaps with pyramids: 25m fast, 50m easy, 75m fast, 100m easy, and back down to 25m fast. Do 10x150m 50m fast, 50m moderate, 50m fast. for more distance do sets of 500- 1,000m either building each 100m from
Eamon Foley is a USA Triathlon Level I Certi fi ed Coach. A former internati onal- level swimmer, he now helps coach Team in Training in New York City, preparing his athletes for the NYC Triathlon in August. When it comes to swimming he fi rmly believes that technique above all else drives improvement in the water. Working with clients at www.swimmingfortriathletes.com
he focuses on technique and effi ciency rather than miles and miles of ineffi cient eff ort.
PERFORMANCECOACHING | page 3
easy to a fast fi nish, or alternati ng 100m moderate and fast eff orts. Aerobic, distance work: Ironman athletes
obviously swim longer distances than a sprint triathlete. Your athletes should swim over distance, such as 1.2 miles for the olympic group, 1 hour or more conti nuous for Ironman will give them belief they can conquer their race day swim. If you are restricted to the pool use drills to replicate conditi ons.
SPRINT/OLYMPIC: 6x5 minutes with the fi rst and last 90 seconds hard eff ort before sett ling into a strong pace.
HALF/IRONMAN: 6x10 minutes, with 3 minutes hard eff ort at the start and fi nish, with strong eff ort in between.
PULL SETS: 10-15 minutes conti nuous pulling will ensure they are not overusing their legs in the open water.
5x200 strokes, swimming between landmarks with the goal of swimming further with the same stroke count each rep. Counti ng strokes will help distract less comfortable swimmers from conditi ons.
Swim 3x1000 with an opti onal run of 5 minutes between each swim.
The above is a small sample of the
possible sets you can employ for open water swim training. The basic message is that the workouts you provide in the pool translate to the open water. our job as coaches is to ensure our athletes have the technical and mental skills to transfer their hard work into a successful race swim. This is where open water-specifi c drills, sets and simply training in the open water come into play.
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