Swimming Workout - Open Water Vs Pool Workouts

by Pool Builders on 08-04-2010 in Articles

Open water swimming workouts demand a greater level of skill and management than swimming in your local pool. You must compete against many different forces that you don't normally have to worry about in a controlled environment.

The number one of these is your Primitive Brain. In order for you to be efficient and the highest quality athlete you must be able to manage the part of your brain that is hard wired for us to stay alive. Your primitive brain. Your Primitive Brain controls all of your fight or flight actions. Swimming is not natural for human beings as we are made for dry land and being vertical. When swimming your Primitive Brain doesn't like it and can cause you to shut down and go into survival mode. This mode can include panic, you to stop swimming, hyperventilation, change of stroke to an inefficient one, and even in severe cases drowning. This is a huge impact to your success and should be trained often in the pool and in your open water swimming workouts.

Other differences are waves, current, wind, temperature, not being able to see the bottom, and possibly wearing a wetsuit. All these factors can cause a change in your stroke...usually for the worst. When training for an open water swim in the pool, try swimming without lane lines for added waves, or have someone use a kickboard to produce extra waves while your are swimming. What do you notice? Practice breathing with water in your mouth or splashing in your face (a drill for working on the Primitive Brain management), swim with lots people in a lane to get used to the possibility of it being crowded.

Another major concern is the temperature. Our pools are usually set to a temperature in the low 80′s. The lakes, rivers and ocean are usually not that warm (unless you are lucky to be somewhere tropical, jealous). The sudden jump into cold water will initially take your breath away, may cause slight panic, possible brief hyperventilating, and your muscles to contract causing your heart rate to sky rocket. That is all you need on top of your technical concerns. To prepare yourself to swim in the colder water definitely practice in your local cold body of water. Get used to the initial reaction, know whats it feels like, build your strategy for dealing with your bodies reaction, and try to stay calm to be efficient.

Most importantly, Have Fun!

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