Tips For The Open Water Intermediate Swimmer

Open Water Swimming

Tips For The Open Water Intermediate Swimmer

You may consider yourself to have made progress from being a beginner to perhaps classing yourself an intermediate level swimmer, but you can still learn a thing or two with these tips.

You may consider yourself to have made progress from being a beginner to perhaps classing yourself an intermediate level swimmer, but you can still learn a thing or two with these tips.

Remember to enjoy the sport, it is supposed to be fun

It’s very easy to beat yourself up over your ability, wishing you swam faster and more efficiently. Sometimes we forget why we are doing it in the first place - it’s supposed to be fun! It’s important to enjoy it and remember why you took the sport up in the first place. The benefits of being free with nature, the challenge and pushing yourself are just some of the reasons you need to constantly remind yourself of.

Swim with a partner

Swimming with a buddy, can keep you motivated by supporting each other. Take it in turns pushing one another with each person leading for a period of time and the other following and then switching places after so long. Also swim different sides and close to each other to simulate a race situation to get comfortable in close quarters and practice your drafting skills.

Work on your weaknesses

If you want to get better in anything in life you have to work at it. Open water swimming is no different. The sport is arguably even more mental than physical if you are not doing it   professionally. This is definitely the case on the longer ocean swims. Therefore it’s important to recognise your weak areas and find an experienced coach that can help you iron out those issues. I personally coach a lot of swimmers not only on their technique but how and where to focus their mind.

Training well but allow for proper recovery

This is of course dependent on your work and family life. It is not an easy with a job and family to train as often as you may like. If possible doing 3 swim sessions a week will give you a good level of fitness. When I trained for my channel swims I was training 5 sometimes 6 days a week as well as doing my full time job, which did make it challenging at times to juggle things around. It is very important to have a one or two rest days each week. Listening to your body, if you feel tired allow the muscles to recover. It’s tough mentally, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about this as rest is as important as training.

Choose where you train wisely

There are organised clubs up and down the country which provide a safety team in a controlled area to swim. They are normally open for business end of April to end September 2/3 times during the week. I recommend that if you are swimming in an uncontrolled area, read the signs to ensure it is safe and always swim with a buddy and if possible have someone watch you from the side.

The sport has a great social element with groups now being formed on social media and participating in team events together. Wherever you are in the country I’m sure you will not be far away from a lake that provides open water swimming.

Train not just in open water

Throughout the winter, it may not be warm enough for you to train in open water even in a wetsuit, unless you can go abroad to a warmer climate. When I was training to swim the Cook Strait, I flew a couple of times to Malta, the flights from the UK are cheap and it was the perfect temperature in February for my channel swim. If this isn’t a possibility, threshold training in the pool is very effective to help your stamina. Doing fast training sets with limited rest. This helped me a lot when I started swimming in open water from May.

Make sure you enter some events

There are many difference open water events around both at home and overseas. If you are at an intermediate level you may well have tried out a 1 or 2 mile swim race previously and be looking to increase your distance to 5k or 10k race. From my experience and not wanting to put ideas in to anyone’s head (honest!) some open water swimmers start at 1 mile and keep increasing gradually as the sport can be addictive. Next thing you know you’ll be taking on the lengthy lake swims or even ocean swims of significant length. Believe, Achieve, Succeed!