Training Tips

 

After an extensive career at the highest level of the sport of open water swimming Ky has some great training and preparation tips for you to achieve your best in the Great Australian Swim Series this summer.


Open water swimming is a very enjoyable sport. With no lanes, lines or walls  “the water is open!”. Open Water Swimming provides a sense of freedom and excitement where great achievements can be accomplished in overcoming the elements. Elements meaning weather conditions and waves and the challenges presented in swimming in large groups. Whether it is attempting the English Channel or doing your very first ocean swim at The Great Sydney Swim in Farm Cove, it is a sport that sets exciting challenges and dares you to achieve them by taking the plunge. There is no better feeling than overcoming the elements of the open water to finish a swim and achieve what you set out to do.

 

Squads


Many experienced swimmers are members of swimming squads whether elite pool squads, triathlon squads. Swimming in a squad is a great way to improve quickly in the sport with like minded individuals and learn new skills whilst improving your fitness. It is also a great way to meet other avid ocean swimmers and have some fun at the same time.

 

 

Training Swims


Whether training in the open water or a pool it is important to mix up the pace of your swims. In some of your training sessions swim race distance as a time trial whether is it 750m or 2.2km, it’s a good way to boost your confidence before taking part in the actual swim event. However it is not always enjoyable to swim long distances at each training session, so mix it up with 5x400m with 20 seconds rest, 10x200m with 10 to 15 seconds rest or 20x100m with 10 seconds rest between each repetition. A great skill in open water swimming is to be able to change pace and to swim at a comfortable pace at certain points of a swim and to up the tempo at other points especially to enable you to finish your swim off strongly. It is a good idea to do some explosive sets in training as well. Change the repetitions to 50m (maybe 20 of them) and swim 25m fast and 25m moderate taking longer rest intervals between each rep.
In your warm up and warm down make sure to include other strokes such as breaststroke and backstroke for variety and to take some of the pressure of your shoulders. If you are new to ocean swimming you can even do some backstroke on event day. In longer races the top swimmers still roll over to backstroke to get there bearings, take a break from the large amount of freestyle stokes they are taking and to conserve energy.
If you are training in the open water it is a bit more difficult to measure distances for repetitions and times, however this can be done by swimming between buoys (if they are present), sighting landmarks and counting your strokes. i.e. 30 strokes easy and 30 strokes fast x 10 repetitions.
It is recommended that interval training is performed in the pool and if you wish to practice in the open water this is where your longer distance swims should take place.
 

 

Equipment


It‘s important to be comfortable in the equipment you are wearing for open water swimming. That means a comfortable swimsuit, a bright coloured swimming cap (especially if swimming alone in the open water) and a comfortable pair of goggles. Open water swimming can sometimes be in murky water with poor visibility and there are no lanes and walls to help you maintain a straight course. This is why a good pair of goggles is important. Comfort is also the key to selecting a pair in open water swimming as events are usually of a substantial distance meaning they need to be worn for a lengthy period of time.
A comfortable and well fitted swimsuit is also important for open water swimming. It is essentially an outfit you will be wearing for a significant amount of time whilst you swim so it is important to have one that is comfortable and will also enable you to perform your best.
The Great Australian Swim Series is run in accordance with FINA rules which means no wetsuits or speed suits are allowed except for the specific 750m and 2.2km “anything goes categories”.

 

 

Training Aids


There are a large range of training aids and equipment that can help improve technique, endurance and also provide variety in training.
All of the following training aids are also permitted if you enter the 750m or 2.2km “anything goes” categories in The Body Science Great Australian Swim Series and either are starting out in the sport and wish to be assisted by on of these devices or feel like a casual splash with their favourite training aid.

 

Pull buoys are flotation devices that are placed between the legs to provide buoyancy and to minimise the use of the legs. This allows swimmers to concentrate on their arm technique without having to kick hard to ensure their legs don’t sink. Pull buoys also increase efficiency and assist you to conserve energy by not kicking your legs and are a great training aid for your longer based sessions and continuous swims.


Kick Boards are also very useful when training in a pool. Kick boards enables swimmers to focus on their leg strength and condition and focus on this key part of their stroke. Kicking is important for open water swimmers as it assists in strengthening the hip flexors which are key in looking up to sight turning buoys, other swimmers and the finish of races.


Hand Paddles are another device that can be used to improve technique and strength through the arm stroke. They are usually used with a pull buoy when concentrating on the pulling part of your stroke. However they are a device that you must build your stroke up to using over time as they can apply great pressure on your shoulders.


Specific swimming training snorkels are also a great training aid for open water swimmers who are usually doing long aerobic based swimming sets. It allows for swimmers to concentrate on their technique and lengthening stoke without taking a breath to the side. It also provides an option of variety to training and lets your neck take a break.


Flippers are a great training device that also allow you to strengthen your legs. They do provide some buoyancy and you will swim quicker with them. It is a great way to concentrate on technique whilst you are swimming at a fast pace. Flippers are also permitted for swimmers who enter the anything goes categories of The Body Science Great Australian Swim Series and for those who are starting out in the sport or are lacking in confidence when considering taking the plunge.


Sunscreen is an integral part in the preparation of any open water swimming. Swimming outdoors is extremely fun however sun sense must be considered as you will not achieve at your best if you are sun burnt in addition to the long term damage you can potentially do to your skin. If you are or become an avid open water swimming fan you will be spending a great amount of time outdoors. Sunscreen is a vital necessity in your training and competition bag.

 

Nutrition. Fuelling appropriately for an endurance based activity is vital to achieving what you have set out to do. Please visit the nutrition section of our website for extensive information on how to fuel appropriately for The Body Science Great Australian Swim Series. Body Science are Australia’s leading provider of Sports nutrition so it makes sense to fuel with them for your next swim. Like sunscreen, water is also integral to every training session and open water swim you do. With out adequate rehydration you are limiting your chances of achieving your best. Open water swims are usually conducted in Australia’s great summer and is a great way to have fun in the sun. However it can be extremely hot and to perform at your best always remember to rehydrate!