There’s a certain loneliness about training for open-water swimming, especially when you do your training in a pool. This drill serves multiple purposes to teach and help break the monotony that comes with 5,000-meter swims.
Why Do It:
When you are training mostly alone, the pool becomes a place of drudgery. While your teammates are swimming repeat 50s, and you’re assigned a 5,000 swim, or 5 X 1,500, sometimes it’s good to have something else to focus on. This is where a coach, or volunteer swimmer can come in handy.
How to Do It:
1. During long swims, have a second swimmer serve as the rabbit every few lengths.
2. Just prior to the open-water swimmer coming to the turn, the lead swimmer pushes off and swims a 50 at pace to give the open-water swimmer a bit of a draft.
3. As the lead swimmer, or coach, moves to a 100, maybe the pace is a bit too much for them, so the open-water swimmer moves from a straight back draft, to a hip draft, then to a pass as they go for the turn.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
If you’re a coach, or older, or slower than the young, fast, open-water swimmer… putting on paddles or fins helps you maintain their pace, so use whatever tools you need to maintain the swimmer’s pace. Don’t start our sprinting. The goal is to maintain their pace, so you may have to build into the length.
Prior to the swimmer coming in, make sure the rabbit gets low on the pushoff and makes eye contact with the open-water swimmer to make sure they know a draft is coming.
The goal here is twofold: teaching drafting and passing tactics, as well as breaking up the monotony that comes with longer swims. Enjoy!
If you want to see this technique shown really well, check out Fran Crippen’s Open Water video.