After an extensive career at the highest level of open water swimming former 25km World Champion Brendan Capell has some great training and preparation tips for you to achieve your best in the 2012 Distance Swim Challenge this summer.
With no lanes or lines Open Water Swimming provides a sense of freedom and excitement. Great achievements can be accomplished by overcoming the weather conditions, waves and the challenges presented in swimming in large groups. Whether it is attempting the 12.6-mile swim or doing your very first ocean swim in the 500m fun swim at the 2012 Distance Swim Challenge, open water swimming is a sport that sets exciting challenges and dares you to achieve them by taking the plunge.
Many swimmers are members of swimming clubs whether elite pool, triathlon or masters swimming squads. Swimming in a club is a great way to improve quickly in the sport with like-minded individuals and learn new skills whilst improving your fitness. It is also a great way to meet other ocean swimmers and have some fun at the same time. For more in formation about swim clubs in your area go to http://www.usms.org/lmsc/.
Pool Training Swims
When training pool it is important to mix up the pace of your swims. In some of your training sessions swim race distance as a time trial whether is it 500m or 4.8 mile (12.6 mile may be a bit difficult except to emulate race pace in training), it's a good way to boost your confidence before taking part in the actual swim event.
Long distance pool swimming is not always enjoyable. Break up the long distances into small sections because short rest training is the aerobic foundation of success in long distance and ocean swimming.
Changing pace during open water swimming is an important skill to have. Circumstances may require you to increase your tempo to pass another swimmer or to finish strong. Incorporating explosive sets in your training is the best way to prepare for those times.
During your warm up and warm down include other strokes such as breaststroke and backstroke for variety and to take some of the pressure off your shoulders. This is also important for race day because most elite swimmers roll over into backstroke in longer races to get their bearings, take a break from the large amount of freestyle stokes they are taking and to conserve energy.
Ocean Training Swims
Training in the open water it is a bit more difficult to measure distances for repetitions and times. This can be done by swimming between buoys or sighting landmarks and counting your strokes.
It is recommended that interval training is performed in the pool and if you wish to practice in the open water this is where your longer distance swims should take place.
Choosing the correct and most comfortable pair of goggles is probably the most important decision swimmer will make. Open water swimming is often in murky water with poor visibility; there are no lanes or walls to help you maintain a straight course and the distances mean goggles are worn for a long periods of time.
It is essential to choose the correct swimsuit and wetsuit for an event. Open water swimmers will be wearing these for significant amounts of time so comfort and performance are the two factors that should guide any swimmer in making their choice.
There are a large range of training aids and equipment that can help improve overall training, technique and endurance.
The following training aids are also permitted if you enter the 500m "fun swim" category in The Distance Swim Challenge.
Pull buoys are flotation devices that are placed between the legs to provide buoyancy and to minimise the use of the legs. They allow swimmers to concentrate on their arm technique without having to kick hard to ensure their legs don't sink. Pull buoys also increase efficiency and assist you to conserve energy and are a great training aid for long sessions and continuous swims.
Kick Boards are very useful when training in a pool. They enable swimmers to focus on their leg strength and conditioning which is a key part of their stroke. Kick training is important for open water swimmers in strengthening the hip flexors that are a key to looking up to sight turning buoys, other swimmers and the finish of races.
Hand Paddles can be used to improve technique and strength the arm stroke. They are usually used with a pull buoy to concentrate on the pull part of the stroke. Swimmers must be careful to build up to using these over time as they can apply great pressure on your shoulders.
Training Snorkels are great for doing long aerobic based swimming sets. They allow swimmers to concentrate on technique and lengthening stoke without the need to take a breath to the side, which also reduces the strain on the neck.
Flippers create added resistance that helps swimmers to strengthen their legs. They are also a great way to concentrate on technique whilst you are swimming at a fast pace.
Sunscreen is an integral part in the preparation for any open water swimming. Sunburn will keep swimmers from performing at their best as well as cause long-term damage to the skin. Open water swimmers will spend significant amount of time outdoors so sunscreen is a necessity in training and on event day.