This week has been about creating OW themes in our fitness sessions as the Openwater race season hopefully draws near. Often we recreate a fast start and then practice calming down into a steady swim. This exercise goes a step further creating a lot of first length stress to help cope with the race start. Endure the stress & unpleasantness, learn to relax & get back into your rhythm. It does not matter if you are at the front or back, we all get butterflies and nerves. We all feel a little ‘panicky’ which can ruin the start, by starting too fast and leave you shattered for the rest of your swim.
Often a start does not go well so the following should help you learn to calm down & get back on track and build back to a good swim. At many of the sessions this week we swam one length of various tough unpleasant drills/skills to create the stress. Then build into a longer block of work which we like to call Mid Race Cruise.
The Stress Drills
1 Arms folded on top of the head w FC legs. The lack of streamline makes the kick harder, perhaps add fins. Breathing to the side also helps your rotation but is tricky.
2 Legs only with a PullBuoy outstretched in front, then use it for pulling the MRC
3 Fists clenched w legs crossed.
4 Fingers touching shoulders FC, so only the upper arm is used for pulling. The narrow window for breathing makes this very uncomfortable.
5 Breaststroke arms w FC legs.
6 In pairs, one person kicks holding the lead swimmers ankles, the other does the pulling at the front . This was also useful for people getting familiar with the all too common having your toes tapped issue but someone swimming on your feet.
7 Add fins and swim the first length with the toes pointing downwards. Fists clenched makes this very tough.
How to Implement
One method was to swim these as 200m blocks of work by adding 175m of FC after each of these 25m of stress. Making for a nice 7x200m set. You could also NTW for extra emphasis. <no touch walls>
In the 50m pools we swam 20m of ’stress drill’ into 80m of strong FC into 400m MRC.
This was then repeated with a 300m of MRC having tried a new 20m of stress. Then 200m of MRC and 100m.
Other simple OW practices might include
In the 50m pool at LF recently we swam open turned 100m swims but started and finished each mid pool so that swimmers got two open turns in rather than just the one. Be careful in a public session!
Start your 25m/50m sprints from a horizontal treading water position.
Rest on pooldeck to simulate vascular shunting ie getting used to the blood flow shifting from arms to legs as might happen heading to T1
Single sided breathing but half length left/right would be useful.
Head up sighting, mid length and spotting drinks bottles on poolside
Reduce your usual 5secs swimmer gaps to 2-3 and rotate the lead so people get some drafting/leading experience/exposure.
If Safe and the lane empty 3 abreast sprints are a nice way to get used to elbow to elbow crowded swimming.
Enjoy your swimming and becoming ever more familar with an unpleasant situation will help us tolerate it, maybe one day even enjoy it.