My pool: the ideal place to train for swimming in open water


How great it is to make your debut in an open water race.  Finally a big pool without lanes, with the chance to take advantage of the draft. A different view and salt water that, thanks to the increased density compared to fresh water, enables better buoyancy, make it very enjoyable.

You might think that swimming in open water, whether a lake or the sea, is not suitable for citizens that only open their gills in the pool a stone’s throw from home or the office, and who only get to admire the view of the blue (or black) stripe on the bottom.  But is that really true? A professional open water swimmer trains principally in a pool, better if it’s olympic size, carries out a few specific training sessions in a local stretch of open water and always races in different conditions, often very different from those faced in training.  So how then do you get 100% ready for an important event in which your playing for a national or world title?  The answer is apparently simple: you bring the race conditions to your home.

The mentality of the sprinter or the distance swimmer obviously are very different: the primary objective of each being that of following the vein that reflects their own identity.  However, to prepare for a race in open water, it’s not only about long-slow training sessions, interval training should also be part of the basic program. But that’s what we have trainers for.

In the sea are there floats to indicate or limit the swimming space? Obviously no, only buoys. Therefore the ideal solution is to find a moment in the day in which the pool is almost empty and simulate race conditions: swim in the middle of the lane, don’t do a proper tumble turn but instead turn and move into the next lane.  The pool tiles won’t indicate the direction, you’ll have to take reference points outside of the pool, visible only by lifting your head out of the water.

And the required equipment?  Swimmers aren’t very accustomed to the use of the wetsuit, their costume is their most elegant outfit, the one ready for the party.  Woe betide those who remove their goggles at every short break or fiddle with their swimming hat: in the middle of the waves or in the belly of the group that is getting ready to make a turn around a buoy, this just won’t be possible.  It is fundamental to cover the race distance in training: you need to be able to recall the sensations, get to know your own body and its reaction when fatigued, to find a moral support in moments of difficulty or boredom and always aim for the finish line, whether it is a coloured banner, the wall of a pool or the dream of a lifetime (sportively speaking). Because the race in open water starts right there in the pool.

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