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Wetsuit Practice

For this week’s POTW, if you only saw it on it’s own, it could create some questions… this is the answer to the question… "Why are you wearing a wetsuit in a pool?"


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Pace is a tough thing to determine in open water swimming.  While most of the swim is done by either "feel", always monitoring the effort level, based on the distance you have to complete, another must be based on the ability to understand the "speed" you’re swimming.  There’s no better place to determine answers to those questions.  The distance is fixed, and there’s usually a nice clock around to help you.  It’s also easy to reach up and check your heart rate.  Even if you leave off the heart rate equation for this practice, if you complete the sets as prescribed, you’ll know if your initial pace is too fast, or too slow.

Always remember one thing when starting an open water swim… everybody feels like a champion running in.  It’s feeling like a champion running OUT that is your goal.

Wetsuit Practice:
First… put your wetsuit on.  This entire practice will need to be done with it in place because it’s really tough to put on after you’re all wet.

Swim an easy 400-600 meters (our pool was 25 meters for this practice).

Swim 5 x 100 on an easy interval, working out a general pace, and how you’re going to do your turns.  If you’re wearing a full-sleeve suit like I had on, and if you have very strong pushoffs, you’ll notice water creeping into the neck and sleeves with each push.  By coming up very short (very non-competitive swimmer like), and breathing immediately to get to swimming even faster, you’ll limit this problem.  By also using easy pushoffs, you’ll swim just a bit farther on each length, which is good.  I noticed one additional stroke per length with this "bad turn" technique.  In this case, that’s a benefit.

There’s only one set left in the practice, so it’s time to pay attention to the clock, and to start swimming VERY easy.  The goal of this set is to set the pace that you’re going to hold through the entire set.  You should get into a groove that maintains strokes per length and time per 50 or 100 meters.  My targets were to hold 14 strokes per length and NO split would be slower than 1:15.  Paying attention to the clock also makes it very easy to count all of this, because the clock shifts 1/4 of the way around each time I site for it.*

*Positioning the clock in a strange place that requires you to lift, tilt, or site awkwardly to get your splits also helps in your siting practice.

Main Set – Just Double It:
• 1 x 50 – take :10-:15 rest, watching the clock and leaving on a time you’ll be able to keep track of YOUR time.
• 1 x 100 – take :10:15 rest
• 1 x 200 – take :15-:20 rest
• 1 x 400 – take :20-:30 rest
• 1 x 800 – take :20-:30 rest
• 1 x 1600 – and you’re done

Take off the wetsuit and swim 200-300 very easy and smooth.  Not only will this cool you off because pools tend to be much warmer than open water, and you’ll be SWEATING on this one, but it’s also going to show you the huge advantage a wetsuit can give in your own swimming.

Make sure you hydrate during this practice.  As stated above, if you do this right, it’s not a very easy set, but it will help you gain some understanding of what your "race pace" should feel like at the beginning.