Useful tips to tackle long-distance open water swims

Medium and long-distance swims are becoming truly a favourite sports challenge among the open water swimming enthusiasts thriving to accomplish their set goals and achievements by taking the plunge while experiencing the sense of freedom and excitement that comes with the awe-inspiring  natural beauty of coastal views and landscapes.

 To tackle this type of open water swims there is no need to perform at high pace. However, what comes in handy is the endurance ability enabling the swimmer to stand up for hours to a challenge which might reach 5000 strokes ( let’s say it’s the case of 6000m swim). And this stamina requires a training that goes beyond hours and hours of in-pool training sessions and accumulation of swum meters.

 Here comes our selection of pointers about swimming long distances.

 First step:

Careful season planification is the key: if you set out to participate in a championship with similiar characteristics to that of the OCEANMAN, it is convenient to account for the quantity of meters to be tackled in all of the courses so that the total volume of workload can be distributed harmoniously and adjusted as the competitions approach. This planification and workload distributuion ensures avoiding the excess of work volume leading to overload and fatigue swimming on the day of the competition as well as having quality recovery and/ or transition periods.

Assessing your stroke and swimming technique prior to the training: To carefully analyse the level of our technical efficiency is pivotal to avoid future joint injuries. The shoulders, elbows and spine ( cervical and lumbar) can suffer muscle overload, tendon, ligaments and even the wearing out of the joints- all the swimmers’ nightmares that can be avoided and minimized by adjusting the body and head position, the amplitude of the stroke and optimizing the recovery route. It is widely acknowledged as well that improvements on our technique entail major improvements on our stroke efficiency allowing us to swim the same distance with less strokes or even at a faster pace. It’s all about becoming more efficient!

Swimmer’s safety

While combining open water swims and swimming practices is highly recommendable, the swimmer should be aware that his/her safety is the top priority. Here are some of our all-time favourite safety tips for a truly enjoyable experience in the open water:

- Check out some sea weather conditions websites: Costas, Windfinder, etc.
- Leave a copy of your swim itinerary and duration to someone remaining on the coast. It can be your relative or accompanying person as well as a lifeguard.
- Never swim alone.
- Wear signaling buoy to be easily identified by a rescue boats, surfers, etc. Our favourites are ChillSwim buoys, –the official ones of the Oceanman championship–
- Swim in the areas delimited by coastal buoys thus avoiding entering the space reserved for the marine traffic.

Now it’s a good moment to start your planning on the open water challenges of 2015. Upcoming articles feature in-pool, open sea and land-based training tips – a perfect training combination to get ready for the day of all days!

This article is published with permission of Tere Fullana Lladó from Tfswim.

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