Great Drills For Open-Water Swimming

One fairly common group workout involves gathering with frieTodd Proa open waternds and then heading out into the open water for a swim.  When the weather’s nice, this can become a sort of weekly ceremony, where athletes get together out in the open water.  Most athletes will perform these sort of sessions without any structure, with the focus being simple aerobic development and socializing.  However, these athletes are missing out on a great opportunity to gain sport-specific skills for open-water swimming.  I recently came across an article that shares some simple drills for open-water swimming, as well as the skills needed to practice the next time you and a group of friends head out for the nearest ocean, lake, river or lane-line-less pool.

Surf Entry: Start on the beach and then run into the water.  Count the steps from the time your foot first touches the water until the water becomes too deep to hold your speed and you need to start swimming.  Repeat this until you establish a consistent number of steps that you can run before losing momentum.  Now you can attack the water with the intention of diving forward to start your swim after that specific number of steps.  This will help maximize your momentum and speed and then transfer it to your swim.  If your upcoming race features a beach entry, then this is a great drill to practice at that race’s location, so you can familiarize yourself with the start and give yourself an edge on your competitors.

Drafting: Either with a partner or a small group of three or four, form a line and follow the feet of the swimmer in front of you.  Try to hold their drafts as close as possible.  If you’re the leader, however, then take about 40 or 50 strokes before you pull off and allow the swimmer behind you to rotate to the front.  For fun, never swim in a straight line, forcing the drafters to pay attention.

Buoy Turns: Practice your turns at a buoy.  Start out solo, and then progress into small groups.  Experiment with different approaches to the buoy, always coming in for a wide turn or cutting the corner as tight as possible.  In addition, the angle of the corners can vary from race to race.  Check the course map of your upcoming race to know exactly what it is you should expect.  Make sure to practice both left and right turns, since we have dominant weak and turning sides of our bodies.

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