Triathlon Magazine has published a recent article that incorporates the opinions and recommendations of superstar athlete Sara McLarty and one of the most accomplished masters swimming and triathlon coaches Mike Collins entitled Do You Need Open Water Swimming?
Our opinion of the answer depends on who you are.
If you are a race director, you most definitely want all your race participants to have plenty of open water swimming experience.
There is nothing like training in open water to get one accustomed to surf, ocean swells, turbulence, tides, current, marine life, difficult sight lines, seasickness and breathing in water in rough water conditions.
Body surfing in and fighting ocean swells out are something that can only done in the ocean. Facing frustration while swimming against a current is something that can only be done in seas, estuaries, bays, rivers and oceans. Trying to sight while glaring up towards a bright sun or while facing a dull fog can only be experienced in open bodies of water.
Trying to get properly prepared in a pool is simply inadequate and unwise.
So race directors definitely would prefer the participants to practice in the open water before a triathlon or open water swimmer.
If you are a seriously minded athlete, you want your competitors to focus solely on the pool with the belief that their interval sets are the sole basis of their preparation. So while you are preparing your body to swim in the open water without benefits of flip turns, rests on walls or lane lines, your competition is depending on flat, warm-water conditions in their preparations.
Dave Salo and Catherine Vogt prepared their athletes Haley Anderson and Ous Mellouli for their victories at the recent FINA Olympic Marathon Swimming Qualifier in Portugal. Racing in the ocean, practicing tactics, getting prepared for swells and turbulence, and acclimating to cooler water temperatures all helped Anderson and Mellouli optimize their preparation and pull off their victories.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source