Long Distance OW Swim

training advice appreciated

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03/07/2012 at 15:41

Hi guys, any input on how to prepare for a couple of long distance swims would be great! I've signed up for 2 swims in the next 6 weeks. The first is Sunday week, a 6k swim in potentially choppy water. The next is 10k in hopefully calm water. The most I've swam before is around 2k in choppy OW and 5x1k in a pool so my aim is just to finish both.

I'm planning a number of long sessions both in the pool and in a nearby lake for the next few weeks. Do you think i should swim non-stop or do say 1k intervals? Or something else entirely? Should I be swimming every day? Normally I do 50m or 100m intervals which are pretty useless to me now I think... Or maybe 2 hours of short intervals would be better than steady swimming?

03/07/2012 at 18:08

I did the Eton 10k back in May. I built up to do 6k as continuous sessions in the pool. (boring ) But also did a couple of interval sessions (54 x 133m + 10seconds =7.2K). I've kept up the distance since then (did a non wetsuit 3k openwater race on Sunday) and started to build for the River Dart 10k in September. Again I'm basing that mainly around 6k continuous pool swims.

I just need access to openwater & get  some long continuous session in.

 

04/07/2012 at 11:26

I did a 2.5k continuous swim this morning at steady 1:57/100m. It was pretty tough but i was tired starting off. Luckily I had the lane mostly to myself so I could get into a rhythm. My lower back started to get quite tight.. is that normal? I think its probably better to practice long continous swims to get used to the lower back tightening up which won't happen as much with interval training. 

Weekly Plan

2 continuous swims in the pool every week of about 2.5k - 3k

A couple of shorter interval sessions, 2k total

At least 1 open water swim every week of 2k - 5k

1 open water 7k swim one week before the 10k.

How does that sound?

What do you do for nutrition during the swim? Would you carry your own stuff somehow? I'm thinking a gel every 2k and water every km. We luckily have support boats who I think will carry our stuff with them.

04/07/2012 at 17:39

In the pool my back starts to get really tight after 5k. 1 week before for the 7k might be  a touch late, I did my last long one (same as for a marathon) two weeks out, then taper the distances.

At Eton we had a feed station evey 2k so I had a gel & water every lap. Worked for me.

04/07/2012 at 19:53

I do a fair amount of OW long distance events.  My training tends to consist of one or two pool sessions a week where I do drills and speed sessions to improve my swimming technique and speed.  It also breaks up the monotony of doing long pool session.

Then I aim to get outside twice a week where I concentrate on continuous swimming.  These sessions vary in duration depending on the weather, tide, how much time I have and who I have got to swim with.  It is hard to find people who are willing to do long swims and I don't feel safe going on my own.

As for nutrition, I take some sort of flavoured water in the pool (plain water tastes too much like pool water) as the warmer water tends to dehydrate me and then I get cramp.  But in OW I tend not to take nutrition.  My longest swim without nutrition has been 5 miles but I do make sure that I refuel with ginger cake and hot, sweet drinks afterwards.

As someone else said, long races often provide feed stations.  You can simulate these in training by leaving drinks on the bank/beach.  I won't harm to get out for a few seconds to take on your prefered feed, but if you are going to be drinking in the water then it is worth while practicing this (which you can do in the pool if it is easier).

As a general rule the type of feed you need for a long distance swim is different from running events as you won't sweat as much so need less electrolytes.  Too many electrolytes can also upset your stomach.  So go for a high carb drink instead.  Maxim is a popular drink with long distance swimmers, although any high carb sports drink will do.

Also avoid dairy if you are swimming in salt water as if you swallow the salt then it will cause the dairy to curdle and you will feel sick.

Note that this advice is specific for swimming events only.  If you are doing a long swim as part of a triathlon then the rules change as during the swim you are also fueling for the bike.

If you live around the south and want a training partner then let me know.  I'll happily do a long session with you.

08/07/2012 at 16:48

Thanks guys, some useful tips there. Had a bit of a worry picking up an injury playing in a footy match on Wednesday. Thought I'd cracked a rib! Luckily its only bruised and i went back in the pool with a little pain today. I've a 1k OW swim with a group this evening, 2k if i'm feeling okay.

That's interesting that you don't worry as much about nutrition in OW Caz. Its a fair point that you sweat a lot more in the pool. I have a good high carb drink from myprotein that i'll try out.

On the off chance that anybody out there is interested in how i get on i'm planning to update this fairly regularly between now and the 10k swim. The level i'm at now is about 12:30 for 750m and around 27 minutes for 1,500m. Never swam more than 2k continuously. I have a 6k swim on July 14th and a 10k swim on August 11th.. not much preperation time. If anybody is in a similar situation please let me know how and what you're doing!

09/07/2012 at 18:15

I got back in the pool about a year ago ( after 25+ years without swim training!) after I realised that I was never going to run again due to a chronic injury.

I have done a few OW races since and I did my main OW race for this summer yesterday: 6K in 1h54 from the island of Tabarca to Santa Pola in Alicante, Spain. I was reasonably prepared (averaging around 11k a week this year) and had no qualms about the distance but I was not prepared for the sea conditions continuously changing. When I got out I felt like I used to after a particularly hard rugby match - I was completely knackered. I took about 15-20 minutes more than in a 25m pool to do the same distance and was far more tired at the end.

Based on what you have said here, I think that you are somewhat underprepared for these swims. That is not to say that you won't be able to do them - that is probably more a mindset issue - but you should set your expectations accordingly and expect to take the consequences afterwards. 

Recommendations:

- Try and swim in the same place as the 6k race beforehand (1k the day before?) just to acclimatise yourself to the conditions (wind & wave directions, currents, seaweed, murkiness, etc.).

- If you expect to be in the water less than 2h30, nutrition should not be an issue. Just eat (carbs) and hydrate well in the days leading up to the race and don't make any experiments or radical changes in your usual diet.

- Keep calm during the swim. Above all else, this will help you finish - concentrate on breathing and technique. If somebody lands on top of you or swims into your path, ignore them. Nobody is out to get you and they either didn't see you or were put there by a wave. 

- In tough sea conditions maintaining a rhythm is difficult. If you go out thinking that anything can happen between one stroke and the next  it's easier to deal with when something unexpected happens - you can't breathe because of a wave breaking, your arm entry is truncated, etc. Try and maintain a rhythm but don't get nervous if you can't.

- Use vaseline or bodyglide on the back of you neck, under your arms and between your thighs - apply it with a plastic glove. This will enable you to put your googles on without smearing them! I can't give you advice on wetsuit issues as they have not been allowed in the OW swims I have done.

- Start from an appropriate position. If your aim is to finish, start at the side or at the back. 6K in rough water is a long way, don't make it harder on yourself by fighting with the elites to get the best position in the first 500m.

- Don't be disheartened if your time is way down from what you expected based on pool swims. Every sea swim is dependent on the water conditions and currents, you cannot compare times directly.

If you get through 6K in rough water, you should have no problems in the 10K in calm waters - apart from boredom. Good luck!

EDIT: Forgot to add a link to some good training sessions for longer distances.

Edited: 09/07/2012 at 18:45
09/07/2012 at 18:42

Are they wetsuit or non-wetsuit swims? Esp if non-wetsuit it might be useful thinking of whther you have swum in similar conditions before. So if the choppy one is in the sea have you been in the sea for a couple of sess.

As you are fairly close to the events I think your swimming should be weighted more toward long swims at easy [pace and less intervals. If you do intervals make them longer, eg intervals of 200m/400m/800m rather than shorter distance 50/100m. Doing some long swims will also give you a sense of waht pace you should be swiming at - esp at the start when you will want to be at a very comfortable pace

09/07/2012 at 18:47

3k at Rother Park is my next - ASA champs so no wetsuit. Then its a mile in the Severn again no wetsuit, so trying to get used to the cold water & being lower in the water at the moment. Finishing the season with the Dart 10k.

Good luck with your  swims B_Kins. 

09/07/2012 at 21:43

Metoikas - you're absolutely right that i'm under prepared. I have no doubt about that. I do think i am capable of finishing them though. The only aim is to finish the 6k, preferably in 2 hours but that's not an issue. I don't mind rough water but over 6k i'm sure it makes it a lot tougher. The swim starts from my local beach in Sligo so i'm pretty familiar with it. The 10k is all about finishing it. I haven't even set an aim on time! As you say the 6k will be a good indicator of what to expect. I forgot about the bodyglide. I have some here that I will now stick in my bag. Cheers!

bos1 - both swims are wetsuit optional. The main prize is for the non wetsuit category but i'll be wearing mine for sure! I've done little to no swimming in OW Slugs, apart from on holidays in warmer climates! Its definitely something i'd like to try. Good luck with yours too! I don't envy you getting used to the cold water!

Time is very short now and i think i still need at least one longer sessions before the weekend. I have a coached session tomorrow and Thursday of about 3.5k in the pool. I'm thinking I should maybe skip the Thursday session or will one day of rest be enough? Maybe if i take it easy on Thursday.. the class is already paid for after all

10/07/2012 at 08:49

I love the idea of a thread where we can post about longer swims.  I often feel a bit out on a limb here as most people aren't interested in a swim any longer than IM distance.

Sunday a friend and I did a long river swim.  About 3.5 miles tidally assisted so the water was brackish.  Due to the heavy rain we have had recently the water was brown and there were patches that felt glacial and other patches that felt almost too warm to swim in, but being a river there were no waves and it was a lovely swim.

It took us about 1 hr 45 min but neither of us were pushing ourselves.  And the best bit was that we left our dry clothes in a pub so we climbed up the steps from the water into the beer garden (with everyone staring at us in amazement) and then stopped for a pint.

Pre swim nutrition was cereal and fruit for breakfast and then a couple of orange Clubs that I happened to find in the car about 30 min before the swim.  No lunch even though it was an afternoon swim.  We didn't take any nutrition or drinks with us at all.

10/07/2012 at 11:20
SuperCaz wrote (see)

I love the idea of a thread where we can post about longer swims.  I often feel a bit out on a limb here as most people aren't interested in a swim any longer than IM distance.

Sunday a friend and I did a long river swim.  About 3.5 miles tidally assisted so the water was brackish.  Due to the heavy rain we have had recently the water was brown and there were patches that felt glacial and other patches that felt almost too warm to swim in, but being a river there were no waves and it was a lovely swim.

It took us about 1 hr 45 min but neither of us were pushing ourselves.  And the best bit was that we left our dry clothes in a pub so we climbed up the steps from the water into the beer garden (with everyone staring at us in amazement) and then stopped for a pint.

Pre swim nutrition was cereal and fruit for breakfast and then a couple of orange Clubs that I happened to find in the car about 30 min before the swim.  No lunch even though it was an afternoon swim.  We didn't take any nutrition or drinks with us at all.

Now thats my kind of swim
So important to get that post session recovery fluid straight away.

10/07/2012 at 11:36
B_Kins wrote (see)

The main prize is for the non wetsuit category but i'll be wearing mine for sure! I've done little to no swimming in OW Slugs, apart from on holidays in warmer climates! Its definitely something i'd like to try. Good luck with yours too! I don't envy you getting used to the cold water!

What i meant to say was I do very little OW swimming without a wetsuit! I do try to swim in open water at least once a week...

i can imagine the looks you must have been getting coming out of the river Caz especially with the water being so brown! Its been the same here, though it wouldn't be advised to swim in the Lagan at the best of times!

11/07/2012 at 12:59

Have fun with your swims, B_K. Do they surf on that beach in Sligo, you might get the chance to body surf? Some big waves i hear in that area.

Was thinking about doing a 14k swim in henley mid-august but not comfortable with where i am fitness wise (I lack the cojones of B_K). Also the river looked particulalry unappetising at the weekend.

11/07/2012 at 13:35

It starts in Rosses Point, which is generally pretty flat. The finish is in Strandhill which is a big surf spot. Swimming isn't recommended at all there, so i'm expecting a pretty rough finish! Is there any technique to body surfing? It's timed so that the tides won't stop us anyway.

Really looking forward to it now but I'm still struggling with a light chest injury that won't go away! I can swim with it though and I'm hoping the couple of days rest and adrenaline will take care of it on the day. I'll have my Garmin with me on the day so i can share how i did (or didn't) get on.

11/07/2012 at 14:18

Proper OW swimmers like SuperCaz or Slugs could probably give you better pointers as to technique. But I think a lot of it is feel for the water; to catch the wave, swim at the right speed before it arrives, then when it comes under you it carries you forward.

There is a forecast for Standhill on the surf school website. Looks like the week end surf is relatively calm.

I learned to swim by messing around as a kid in the sea off the west coast in Kerry, so am slightly envious.

Edited: 11/07/2012 at 14:23
11/07/2012 at 17:45
bos1 wrote (see)

Proper OW swimmers like SuperCaz or Slugs.....

Proper OW swimmers are complaining about the inclusion of Slugs in this category! 

I'm pretty rubbish at sea swmming if there are waves about.


 

12/07/2012 at 15:05

It's all relative

12/07/2012 at 15:47
Slugs wrote (see)
SuperCaz wrote (see)

And the best bit was that we left our dry clothes in a pub so we climbed up the steps from the water into the beer garden (with everyone staring at us in amazement) and then stopped for a pint.

Now thats my kind of swim

So important to get that post session recovery fluid straight away.

me and the missus have a planned swim in our minds for when conditions are right and that's to swim from where we live (we live 400m from the Channel) and swim about 4km along the shore to a pub we know - climb out fully togged up in the wetsuit, walk in and start ordering beer in French.   we're kind of hoping that we can spin a tale that we have swum from France (which is about 40miles where we are!).  

one of these days!

13/07/2012 at 09:16

There isn't any real technique difference to swimming in the sea or the pool.  its all down to practice.

I prefer to swim without a wetsuit as you get to feel the waves and can work with them rather than against them easier.  A wetsuit removes the sense of touch so you tend to try to plow through the waves more.

I think the important thing is to learn to relax and go with the flow.  Don't try to fight the water, don't worry if your technique goes to pot as the waves hit you and be prepared to adjust your arm speed to fit in with the waves.  Getting out and swimming in really rough water (as long as it is safe to do so) is a great way of building confidence even if you don't manage to swim anywhere.  In every rough swim after that you will know that you have the ability to survive worse.

The biggest waves I have ever swum in were about 2m high from top to bottom.  I remember sitting in the trough and looking up thinking that the wave was taller than Hubby (who is 6'4").  Then at the top of the wave I was in free fall until I hit the bottom again.  I think we managed to swim only about 100m in 45 min, but it was great fun and took away my fear of the sea.

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