One-Hour Workout: Open Water Partner Swim

Get familiar with the open water before your first race of the season with this session.

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This week’s open water workout comes from Rhode Island-based John Houfek, who has been coaching multisport athletes through Raven Triathlon Coaching for more than 20 years. For this session, Houfek says you need to swim around a designated two-buoy course, or pick two end points and swim back and forth parallel to shore in chest-deep water. Two plastic gallon milk jugs anchored about 25 yards apart parallel to shore works great too.


10 minutes

Check the water entry and exit points for depth, obstacles and hazards to be sure it is clear. Swim easy in a group back and forth between your two points and practice drafting off each other.

RELATED: Open-Water Swimming Tips From The Pros

Main Set

40 minutes total

First 20 minutes: Place a flag or cone on the beach about 15 yards up from the water where you will enter and exit. With your partners, start shoulder to shoulder at the water’s edge, and simulate a race start to include dolphin dives. Swim out to a buoy about 25 yards from shore, go around it and swim back to shore.

Exit the water, run up and around the flag/cone then re-enter the water again simulating a start, and swim around the buoy. When you come upon other athletes, practice either drafting or passing in the water. Do this continuously for 20 minutes. For the second 20 minutes, start the same way, only after you swim around the buoy and return to the beach, stop and wait for the entire group to finish before you repeat the start/swim around buoy/return to beach sequence. Pace yourself! This is harder than you think.


10 minutes easy swimming around your course

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