Open Water Swimming Skills Session 5: Race Day Training

Teaching Point
More specific open water swim drills that really relate to what can unfold on Race Day. Some of these will be performed better with some team-mates.

1. Chaingang
6-12 lengths: Everyone in the lane, aside from the last person, push off and swim slow on each other’s feet to one side of the lane. The chaingang needs to be tight and slow to allow the last swimmer a fighting chance of sprinting the length and getting to the other end before the ‘gang.’ The ‘sprinter’ then leads the chaingang and recovers, which will then help keep the ‘gang’ from speeding up too much. The new last person now sprints to the front for lap two. Continue looping though until all have sprinted two to three times or time expires.

2. Vasc Shunt Exits
6-12 lengths front crawl swum strongly. As you approach each wall you climb out, stand up and return to the water. Not a full Vascular Shunt exercise but it does make a standard swim a lot harder. Focus on great front crawl technique once you return to the water. With an elevated heart rate from the exit, it will be tough.

3. Three Abreast
6-12 lengths front crawl swum continuously three abreast in a lane for one length hard. When the final group of three finish in your lane, the lead group of three can continue. Not really drafting practice here, more just getting used to the jostle of shoulder to shoulder swimming. Rotate the leader with each length.

4. Blind Swim
6-12 lengths swum as single lengths on top of the Black Line on the bottom of the lane. Alternate three strokes eyes open with five closed. Keep the hand pathways central, the breathing bilateral and swim on top of the Black Line. Once the eyes reopen, you should still find yourself on top of the Black Line having swum straight, which will help you to your best swim in openwater.

5. Snakes and Ladders
(multiple lanes necessary)
Start the group in one corner and each swimmer swims two lengths in each lane keeping to the left of the lane if entering the left side of the pool. Duck under the lane ropes for lengths three and four etc. A full pool swim could be from 200m to 400m depending on number of lanes and length of pool.

The faster swimmers can exit, return to entry point and start again, until either the last swimmer is caught or the last swimmer finishes the full course.

Novice: 750m (25m pool)
Intermediate: 1500m (25m pool)


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