Pool training for open water article

swimchica623swimchica623 Member
edited March 2014 in General Discussion
I found this article recently and thought others might enjoy. I would personally prefer to train OW every single day, but I understand the benefits of pool training. This article helps explain why so I thought I'd share. :)


  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited March 2014
  • suziedodssuziedods Mem​ber
    Another "plus" for pool training. YEARS ago I had the "superman complex" that I could do a two-way EC. ( stop laughing, we've all thought about it).
    I queried the late great Dave Parcells about training tips. He kindly replied ( I still have the email)... "You're not going to like what I have to say, but you gotta put in the pool time". Lots of pool time. "

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach

  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member
    @suziedods said:
    stop laughing, we've all thought about it.
    No, really. That thought has truly never crossed my mind. Pretty sure it never will.
  • I'm surprised at how much longer a 17,000 yard workout feels than a 10 mile OW training swim. In the pool, it is easy to get to nutrition, the temperature is consistant (and usually not too hot) and the water is always calm. You get turns to stretch your back out every few SECONDs...not even minutes!
    For practice anyway, I always feel like I accomplished something more monumental after a long practice swim. They don't feel equal. But I think pool swimming is beneficial because you can pinpoint the difficulties of a swim or race with carefully designed sets.
    If I could, I'd do OW every day! But I don't think I'd be as strong of a swimmer.
  • I wonder if there is a rule of thumb about the time you lose ow v. pool.

    I was feeling cocky in that I was doing 25 minute miles in the pool... Until I went to a 25m pool and my time went to the 27s (but the 25m was heaven compared to the 20m pool at the gym that I'm looking forward to leaving.) I can only assume that a 50m pool would add at least a couple more minutes, so a 5,400 KM pool would add some more.

    While I'm here, any tricks on keeping count of laps?
  • danswimsdanswims Portland, ORMember
    While I'm here, any tricks on keeping count of laps?

    What works for me is one of these for anything 500 yards or over.

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    edited May 2014
    I wonder if there is a rule of thumb about the time you lose ow v. pool.

    I was feeling cocky in that I was doing 25 minute miles in the pool... Until I went to a 25m pool and my time went to the 27s (but the 25m was heaven compared to the 20m pool at the gym that I'm looking forward to leaving.) I can only assume that a 50m pool would add at least a couple more minutes, so a 5,400 KM pool would add some more.

    While I'm here, any tricks on keeping count of laps?

    My OW speed is a smidge slower than my LCM speed which is about 10% slower than my SCY speed. If I could flip turn the delta would likely be larger (both OW->LCM->SCY)

    As for counting laps, I am a huge fan of the Garmin Swim. For me this has two major benefits:

    1. I can swim to time (e.g. 30 or 60 minutes) and then look at the watch for actual distance.

    2. In anything over a 100 in a SC pool I can check the watch mid set to make sure I don't throw an extra lap in (has happened more than once when leading a lane in Masters which is very embarrassing).

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member
    As a masters/open water swimming coach, facilitator of open water swim clinics in the Denver area I get many questions from triathletes seeking faster OW times. The vast majority of them are from athletes with little to no competitive swimming experience. This is also where you learn many stereotypes do have a core of truth to them and tri’s have this tendency to look for the magic bullet, the “secret sauce” or if there is no secret the willingness to spend $2000 on a pair of the latest carbon fiber aerodynamic wheel sets for the bike. They’ve heard about and attempted to do drafting, and they know they need to navigate well but seemly have higher expectations of the speed they will obtain then reality of what mastering these skills will bring them.

    I tell them that at best the speed pick from a very successful draft is unlikely to go beyond 5% and the most successful open water swimmers sight much more then what is typically taught to open water beginners. After I’ve lowered there expectations I unleash the truth “if you can’t swim fast in a pool your OW won’t be fast either”

    If I had a dollar for every aspiring triathlete that is currently doing 25 to 28 minute open water 1500M times (Olympic distance) who tell me there goal is 20 minutes I could quit my day job. I’ll ask them for there 1500M pool time but most don’t know it. I then explain one generally has to swim the distance at least 10% faster in the pool to reach the goal open water and to that means a 18 minute pool 1500 and typical interval training sessions of where there holding a 100M pace of 1:12, say on a 10 to 15 x 100 interval set on 1:25. That wakes them up.

    If your goal is to be competitive in the race and its 10K or under, then typical competitive interval based pool training is a necessity, if you don’t care about place and just want to swim you can go either way.
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    Here's one of my favorite long workouts that helps me keep track of distance, while giving me incentive not to space out and slow down:

    Pick a pace per 500, something that you should be able to stay under on a good day but could be challenging on a "tired" day. I usually use 7:00.

    Start swimming and check your time every 500. As long as you are staying under your chosen pace per 500x # of 500s, you get to keep swimming. If you get to the end of a 500 and find that your elapsed time has gone over, stop. Have something to eat/drink, do an easy 50 back and start over. Otherwise, keep going until you get hungry or the pool closes.

    I feel like for me, LCM is much closer to OW than SCY is to LCM. It's tricky comparing pool times to OW times because you usually don't know how accurate the measurements are. If each buoy is off by 15m, that can add up on the clock.

    I don't have a race time for 1500 LCM, but my 1500 OW PR (on a course I believe was accurate) is nearly 2 minutes slower than my 1650 SCY PR, so ~10% sounds like a pretty good ballpark figure.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • ColmBreathnachColmBreathnach Charter Member
    @dredpiraterobts, re counting. As anyone who's trained with me will know, I no longer possess the ability to count beyond 4. So I time everything. I work out how long it will take to swim the required distance and check my stopwatch regularly. This makes you much more aware of your pace and makes for more even swimming. No going out fast and dying. Stick to your target pace and you'll be grand. Just get a watch you can read while swimming. I use a cheap Casio with a biggish display. As our pool pace clock can be temperamental, I've been tempted by the brilliant swim.com one but have so far resisted te temptation.
  • "Gadgits? We don' need no steenkin gadgits!" (Just kidding.) Thanks for the pointers.

    I've been trying to keep count by going by 2s. Up 1 back 1, up 2 back 2. and then alternating flip turns on odd and open turns on even. Then breaking the count to 10s (which is like the 500 wendyv34 suggests) but I'll often lose track if I'm thinking about something else during the lap.

    I'm not a triathlete. At this point I'm working on endurance. I think that next winter I'll work more on speed. My workout now is 1600s on 27 (3 or 4 depending on how much time I have) in the 20m pool on 29 in the SCM pool.

    Colmbreathnach, I started working on a song list that should do that for me too. I tried to fashion my own headset (I'm cheap), then I bought a "swimmers' MP3 player" that was broken out of the package... so I'm waiting for the replacement ("cheap," I say!). Meanwhile I'm thinking about creating a file underlay that coaches me through the distance (subtly increasing and decreasing the stroke pace), knowing how many strokes it takes to get to the turn I should be able to create the distance and then know I'm done when the "coach" says "The End!"

    I find that singing to myself tends to mimic the pace I'm swimming.

    Thank you for the feedback folks. This community does keep me going back to the pool.
  • Any workout you do mimics the results you get. For swimmers that need to swim fast for a short time, they do a lot of swims at race or near-race speed IN PRACTICE. This is very different than how I was trained, and a school of thought that came about while I was in college. I've coached with it and swum alongside kids swimming like this and seen the results.
    So it makes sense that marathon swimmers can swim with this idea too. Just like for pool swimming, long slow swimming produces long, slow results. Pace-oriented, "negative splitted" (make the hardest part of the workout after you've already put in most of your time) swimming produces the ability to swim really hard even after hours of swimming. If you set out to swim until you decide you are done each time, then each of your swims will only end when you decide you are done.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    "Gadgits? We don' need no steenkin gadgits!" (Just kidding.) Thanks for the pointers.

    Back when I was counting laps one of the techniques I leveraged was to use the alphabet rather than numbers. For some reason I was less likely to lose my place when I was using letters instead of numbers.

    Also allowed for some fun mind games - I would pick a category and try and name as many things in that category on each lap starting with the letter associated with the lap (e.g. fruits and vegetables, professional sporting teams) though that is probably not the best idea if you are trying to work on your technique :-)

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • TimDexTimDex Member
    edited May 2014
    I thought I was finally free from counting; I got a fenix2 for my burpday this year. Im an obsessive stats man. After learning how it knows you have started a new lap. I have relaxed and now just swim. I can set distance alerts to keep me vaguely aware of the distance covered. I do now find myself watching the wall timers at the pool to gauge my progress thou.

    The fenix2 is not cheap, I have had another garmin for the last 3 years and wanted an upgrade so my wife/we sucked up the expense. She's happier cos Im not obsessing about how many laps I have done, just distance now. Garmin do have a pool specific 'watch' but it does not work for OW, that was a deal breaker for me. When Colorado decides to get its Spring/Summer act together, we have about a foot of snow on the ground today. I'll be in the lake as much as possible.
  • gtswimgtswim PennsylvaniaMember
    I always used the pace clock to help count laps. I knew what pace I wanted to maintain per 100 and would take a quick peek just after my flip turn at each 100 to see if I was on track. It was easy enough to know a goal time for the full swim based on the pace I want to keep and that in turn allowed me to keep track of how far I swam each time I looked at the pace clock.

    Now the clock is on the wall at the end of the pool instead of at the side of the pool and I have a harder time keeping count. It requires an open turn to peek at the clock and that throws off my rhythm so I don't look anymore. I just hope at the end of a swim my expected time is where it should be.

    Just this past Saturday I twice miscounted a 200 and did a 250 instead.
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    I'm laughing because I've done that!

    It's annoying as heck when they put the pace clock somewhere that you can't see it while swimming….or when some big guy stands in front of it.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited August 2014
    cechezabal wrote:
    So, I've decided to do the Swim Around Key West in 2015. I'm lucky enough to live in South Florida and can literally swim every day in either the open ocean or in the inner coastal waterways. I've been slowly doing base work for 2 months, like 3 days per week swimming and I haven't been in a pool once. I'm interested to hear people's thoughts on pool versus open water.
    A reminder to new user to use the search function. Simply typing typing "pool open water" will result in "pool training vs open water" thread.


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