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Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy Medium of Distance and Speed

For professional open water swimmers competing at the highest level, the Olympic distance of 10 kilometers is their focus.

However, as swimmers need to develop different skills and mindsets to reach their potential in the 10K, competing in 5K and 25K races may also be added into the mix. Both these distances are contested at the World Championships, where the fastest athletes face each other in a variety of distances.

Some of the most versatile athletes, such as world champions Edith van Dijk of the Netherlands, Britta Kamrau of Germany, Trent Grimsey of Australia, and David Meca of Spain have competed in all 3 distances at the world championship level.

So with this variety of options where 5K demands a sustained speed, the 10K requires strategic racing, and the 25K rewards stamina and patience, what is an elite swimmer to do? In addition, since most open water swimmers do the majority of their training in the pool, what is the best way to go about training and preparing for an open water 10K?

While coaches and athletes are proponents of different theories and approaches on the optimal training for an elite open water swimmer, there are a few principles that are commonly held true.

In order to successfully race a 10K at the world-class level (under 2 hours for women and under 1:53 for men), one must have a solidly superior aerobic base. Racing at this speed requires built-up endurance. This can be accomplished in the pool in a number of ways. Athletes may simulate an open water race by doing a continuous 5K or 10K, stopping only to feed. In addition, open water swimmers can benefit from high-volume main sets. For example, perhaps the swimmer completes 8 x 1000, with 30-seconds rest between each, holding the same pace throughout. Although this breaks up the distance a bit, providing a bit of a mental relief every 1K, the set is a great way to build the athlete’s endurance. It is important to note that this aerobic base and endurance is not only essential from a physical standpoint, but also from the mental perspective. Swimming a 10K while focusing on one’s competitors in a dynamic environment can be very challenging mentally. It is crucial for a swimmer to have complete confidence that they have done the necessary training, both from a physiological and psychological point of view.

The pace of a 10K race becomes increasingly faster as the race goes on. A review of the split times at several of the last world championships shows that women hold fairly even splits and drop at least 30 seconds on the last 2.5K relative to the first 7.5K. The men, however, significantly speed up in the second half of the race, most times going at least 1 minute faster on the last 2.5K than the slowest 2.5K loop. Thus, it can be extremely beneficial to work on descending pace throughout a workout, especially on the main set.

Recently, American open water swimmer Ashley Twichell did the following set in a short-course 25-yard pool: 3 x 1000, 3 x 800, 3 x 600, 3, x 400, and 3 x 200.

This was done in a progressive descend manner. A Progressive Descend set requires that each subsequent swim is attempted to be swum faster throughout the entire 9,000-yard set. It is extraordinarily tough and quite tricky to correctly complete this set as intended and in a fashion that reaps all the possible benefits. If the swimmer begins the set too slowly, it may be too easy for him to descend throughout, and may find himself with too much left at the conclusion of the set. On the other hand, if the swimmer starts the set with an extremely fast pace, it may be impossible for him to descend throughout, or even to complete the entire 9,000 yards. It is imperative to find the perfect balance, which is best accomplished through repeated practice. The more workouts like this a swimmer does in the pool, the more prepared he will be going into a race.

So in the Progressive Descend set that Twichell did, she completed each of her 1000s descended with her first one at 10:27 and her last one at 10:20. Since her pace on the last 1000 was 1:02 per 100, she needed to start at a faster pace than this on the first 800. She swam a 8:15 on the first 800 and then proceeded to descend the 800s with her third one being an 8:09 (1:01.1 pace). The next set of swims continued to quicken the pace: her 600 times were 6:06, 6:05, and 6:04. Then the set of 400s began with a 4:02 and ended at 4:00 (1:00 per 100 pace). For the last set of three 200s, she completed the grueling workout in a 1:59, 1:58, and 1:56.

Although it is essential for elite open water swimmers to have an extremely strong aerobic base, speed work cannot be neglected. Often times, the last 500 meters of an open water race becomes an all-out sprint and races are won and lost at the very end of the race. Athletes are forced to change gears at the finish, as frequently tenths of seconds determine the outcome of a two-hour race. Preparation for this may come in the way of quality sets done in the pool. An example of a quality set may be: 8 x 100s, each 100 on 8:00. Every 100 is done as fast as possible, with plenty of time to recover after each. Another possible set done to maximize speed would be: 5 x 500, with the last 100 of each 500 at best effort. This would simulate the fast finish of a 10K race.

Like track athletes competing in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m races, open water swimmers with a focus on the 10K marathon need to focus both on endurance and speed. These races have varying paces, depending on how the lead pack reacts to every surge and attempted breakaway. Swimmers need to be able to adjust accordingly. Athletes are bound to have to switch into a sprint mode at the end of the race – and a few times in the second half – in order to have any hope of winning a medal. While the amount of training time spent on each facet may vary from swimmer to swimmer, it is certain that these elite athletes are focusing on each one at some point.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I am doing a lot of longer races and have been struggling in what to do in build up. This has given me some great new ideas for sets!


Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Agenda

Friday, 19 September



Welcome Reception at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

Documentary films shown throughout the reception:

Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa – Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way
(film by Bruckner Chase)

Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain
(film by Wayne Ewing about Matthew Moseley's Lake Pontchartrain crossing)

Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska
(film by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko about the relay between Russia and Alaska)

The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau
(film about Simon Holiday's Pearl River Delta crossing)

Saturday, 20 September



Registration and Coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland



Keynote Speech:
Colleen Blair (Scotland) on The History of Scottish Swimming



Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport



Colin Hill (England) on Recent Explosion in UK Open Water



Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) on The Feminine Code of Achievement - How a Lady from Down Under Revolutionized Professional Marathon Swimming



Simon Murie (England) on Open Water Swimming Holidays: How A New Sector Was Created Within The Travel Industry



Swimming The Oceans Seven
A round table discussion moderated by:
Kevin Murphy (England), with Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden),
Darren Miller (USA), Adam Walker (England), Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand)



Coffee and Break



World Open Water Swimming Awards Luncheon:
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA)

Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year

Olga Kozydub (Russia), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year

Bering Strait Swim, 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year

Honoring: Vladimir Chegorin, Maria Chizhova, Elena Guseva, Ram Barkai, Jack Bright, Oksana Veklich, Aleksandr Jakovlevs, Matías Ola, Henri Kaarma, Toomas Haggi, Nuala Moore, Anne Marie Ward, Toks Viviers, Melissa O’Reilly, Ryan Stramrood, Cristian Vergara, Craig Lenning, Rafal Ziobro, Andrew Chin, Jackie Cobell, James Pittar, Paolo Chiarino, Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen, Ivan Papulshenko, Zdenek Tlamicha, Zhou Hanming, Oleg Adamov, Andrei Agarkov, Alekseev Semen, Tatiana Alexandrova, Roman Belan, Elena Semenova, Alexander Brylin, Afanasii Diackovskii, Vladimir Nefatov, Evgenii Dokuchaev, Oleg Docuckaev, Roman Efimov, Dmitrii Filitovich, Olga Filitovich, Victor Godlevskiy, Olga Golubeva, Alexei Golubkin, Alexander Golubkin, Alexandr Iurkov, Oleg Ivanov, Pavel Kabakov, Eduard Khodakovskiy, Aleksandr Komarov, Aleksandr Kuliapin, Andrey Kuzmin, Irina Lamkina, Vladimir Litvinov, Andrey Mikhalev, Victor Moskvin, Nikolay Petshak, Sergey Popov, Vladimir Poshivailov, Grigorii Prokopchuk, Dmitrii Zalka, Natalia Seraya, Viacheslav Shaposhnikov, Olga Sokolova, Andrei Sychev, Alexei Tabakov, and Nataliia Usachaeva [represented by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko and Nuala Moore]



Alexey Salmin Pavlovich (Russia) and Dmitry Dragozhilov (Russia)
on the 2016 Winter Swimming World Championships [film]



Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers



Dmitry Blokhin (Russia) and Aleksei Veller (Russia)
on the First World Ice Swimming Championships [film]



Matthew Moseley (USA)’s Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain [film]



Simon Holliday (England) and Doug Woodring (Hong Kong)’s The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau 2014 [film]



International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF)

IMSHOF Induction Ceremonies and Dinner
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA).

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Elizabeth Fry (USA), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • James Anderson (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Dr. Jane Katz (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Indonesian Swimming Federation Open Water Committee (Indonesia), IMSHOF Honour Organisation

  • Melissa Cunningham (Australia), Irving Davids – Captain Roger Wheeler Award by the International Swimming Hall of Fame and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Sandra Bucha (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Jon Erikson (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer [represented by Sandra Bucha]



International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Introduction Video.
Welcome speech by host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)






International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
Induction Ceremonies and Dinner with host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Mercedes Gleitze (England)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by daughter Doloranda Pember]

  • Dale Petranech (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Contributer and IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Claudio Plit (Argentina)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Shelley Taylor-Smith]

  • Judith van Berkel-de Nijs (Netherlands)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Niek Kloots]

  • George Young (Canada)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation]

  • David Yudovin (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

Sunday, 21 September



Registration and coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland



Nuala Moore (Ireland) on The Mindset of 1000m at 0ºC



Admiral Konstantin Sidenko (Russia)’s Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska in 2013 [film]



Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World



Bruckner Chase (USA)’s Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa
Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way



Rok Kerin (Slovenia) on Lifestyle Benefits From Open Water Swimming



Survey distribution and group photo-taking



Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute


The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

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Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

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The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

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