Open Water Swimming Skills Session 7: Recreate Open Water Conditions

Teaching Point
The addition of team-mates allows waves to be created, bunched swimming, relays and a competitive edge, which is how an open water swim will truly unfold.

1. Tunnel of Fun
With as many people as you have, create one row of splashers facing a pool wall, lined-up side by side, one metre apart, forming a ‘tunnel’. Each swimmer swims through the tunnel while ‘team-mates’ splash and make waves. The swimmer then joins the row and the next swimmer starts. In this format, the swimmer is encouraged to breathe away from the splash.

2. Vascular Shunt and Derivatives
Depending on the swim environment this could be as simple as a hard 200m swum in a 25m pool, with an exit and immediate reentry at both ends which will really elevate the heart rate. If space and swim environment allows a hard 100m swim, exit, loosen Velcro and Zip followed by a 100m run back to the reentry point and repeat. The idea is to get used to blood flow in the upper body quickly flowing to the lower limbs for a controlled run to T1.

3. Circle Swims
There are a couple of options here. Both styles will promote sighting, competitiveness and an arcing style of front crawl around a large buoy. At least 10 swimmers create a large circle in the pool or open water shallows. Circumference 30m if possible.

  • As a ‘Duel’, two swimmers could start at opposites and swim until one is caught. This could take a while!
  • As a single circle relay, one half of the circle is team A, the other B. Two swimmers start at opposite sides and swim a full lap before returning to their spot. Their team-mate is the person on their left, whom they tag. The relay continues. Ensure even numbers.
  • If numbers allow, multiple circles could race against each other. One circle is one team and a full lap of all swimmers completes the relay.

4. Open Water Relays
(Square and Triangle)
Speed and sighting are essential to win this!

A team of four (triangle) or five (square) challenge each other. The course is set up with three members A,B,C making a large equilateral triangle. A and D stand together. Swimmer A sprints to B, B to C, C to D and D continues on to A. Relay is complete once members are back to where they started. As a square, A sprints to B, B to C, C to D, D to E, E to A and so on.

5. Slalom
Fast turns and quick sighting are essential here to get down the slalom fast.

Two columns are created with your side-on neighbour 4m apart. Your opposite neighbour is 45 degrees diagonally from you and again 4m away. The challenge is to swim down the course keeping the left column of buoys on your right, and the right column on your left, as you sprint between them sighting and making fast turns.


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