Training

One-Hour Workout: Open-Water Bulletproofing

Use this pool workout to build the weird skills and strength required in the open water.

Use this pool workout to build the weird skills and strength required in the open water.

With the exception of a few indoor or pool-based tris, the great majority of triathlon swim events take place in the open water with other athletes swarming around. Since most people have limited access to open water and even fewer options of swimming with large, combative groups, it’s important to train for race day situations leading up to your event. Since open-water swimming requires different skills and strengths, triathletes should absolutely make open-water-specific workouts a part of their weekly swim routine.

It’s essential to practice skills like sighting, swimming without walls/stopping, in-water starts, and transition prep long before race day and with enough frequency to feel comfortable. It’s an almost certainty that you’ll need to lean on these skills during a race, and you don’t want to be figuring it out as you go.

This week’s workout is particularly important as early-season races approach, and the opportunities for open-water sessions are still limited. If the water temps are still too low, spring winds bring terrible choppiness, or your access to open water is difficult or impossible, this set will help build the skills and confidence to remain relatively comfortable in uncomfortable—and unfamiliar—swim situations.

Though this is not a super difficult workout, it’s important to do a set like this a few times before your race—don’t let race week be the first time you work these skills. Because this isn’t necessarily a key session—in terms of aerobic output—don’t feel you need to be particularly rested before.

Warm-up
200 easy swim
300 drill/swim (50 drill, 50 swim as sculling, single arm, closed-fist swimming x 3)
100 long, streamline kick on back
4 x 50 as 25 build to fast/25 easy swim

Main Set
4 x 100 no walls (even at start—tread water/scull to begin) at rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of 7/10; 20 seconds rest
4 x 50 as 25 heads-up swimming at RPE 8/10, 25 easy; 15 seconds rest
4 x 100 as (25 sight every three strokes; 25 swim at RPE of 7/10); 20 seconds rest
4 x 50 as 25 heads-up swimming at RPE 8/10, 25 easy; 15 seconds rest
4 x 100 no walls (even at start—tread water/scull to begin) at RPE of 7/10; 20 seconds rest
4 x 25 at RPE 9/10, breathe every five strokes, wall-up at finish (hoist yourself out of water); 10 seconds rest

Cool-down
200 easy swim
200 easy kick

Total: 2,900

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