Open Water Workout

This is a sampling of workout sets from Marcia Cleveland for those who want to do long workouts in preparation for the longer distance events. Marcia is a veteran of many open water swims including a solo crossing of the English Channel in 1994. Her Dover Solo book and web site provide lots of information for open water swimmers. The workouts give swimmers something more interesting to do in open water rather than a long slow distance swim. You may put several of the sets together to build a workout, or do one set for the whole workout.

Buoy Sprints Go easy from one buoy to the next and then all out until the next buoy. And on and on until you get to the end (about 10 buoys over 800 yards total).
Indian Sprints These are dreaded by many, but sooo good for one's speed. They are similar to drafting in a pack of cyclists. Have a long straightaway available (at least 4-500 yards). Line up about 3-4 people (any more and it doesn't work too well).

Everyone starts swimming in the line, one directly behind the other. The last person has to pass everyone and take the lead. Once this has been done, the new "last person" passes everyone and takes the lead. This rotation continues until you finish the course, decide it's time to stop, or everyone is dead! We often decide before we start how many rotations we are going through, such as everyone goes through the line 5 times.

Easy/Fast Strokes Do 25 Ez/25 Fst, 25 Ez/50 Fst, 25 Ez/75 Fst, 25 Ez/100 Fst endlessly or any combination that works for you. This is good when one is having trouble concentrating. This one can also be done in a pool.
Alphabets Do 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. "Alphabets," meaning sing the alphabet (ABC's), one letter for each arm stroke. Simple and easy, but good for concentration once you've been in for a few hours.
All Out Sprints Pick a starting and stopping point about 100-150 yards apart, easily visible from the water (We use the edge of one grass patch and a buoy). Time yourself and do ALL OUT SPRINTS from one point to the other, with an easy lap back to the starting point.

Do these on an interval that allows you enough rest, but not too much. For example, the ability level of our group covering our 110 yard course is 1:15 to 1:35 per 100. We do 3 to 5 of these sprints on 3:30-4:00 intervals. Everyone wants to barf by the end. But it really helps with long distance speed.