General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Pool vs Open Water Rss Feed  
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2016-03-23 7:51 PM


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Springboro, Ohio
Subject: Pool vs Open Water
I'm sure this has been answered before because I have seen conflicting answers throughout the Internet, but here goes:

How much longer (percentage) will it take one to swim in open water than in a pool? This is not taking into specific conditions, current, etc.

Example; I swam 1500m in about 35 minutes tonight. It may take me 20% more time in open water? Thanks in advance all!


2016-03-23 11:32 PM
in reply to: #5173604

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
The answer is it depends!

Given flat conditions and no one to interfere...if you are good at turns in the pool it will probably be about 5% longer in open water, but if you are really bad at turns you may be faster.

But there are a lot of other considerations like wind, sun, waves,chop, sighting, your emotional status, other swimmers, etc.

If it's your first ow swim I'd not plan to gain any time in ow, and plan on 20-30% longer.

A skilled pool swimmer who is also competent in open water might be 3% slower without a wetsuit.

Wetsuit for most adds speed, but not if all the factors above slow you down.
2016-03-24 1:07 AM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
In great conditions, I am faster in open water due to the wetsuit.

In bad conditions, it can take much longer.

It really depends!
2016-03-24 4:10 AM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
Oddly for me it is really almost the same, assuming calm water and wetsuit swim for the open water. That pretty much has only happened in two half-ironmans, and in both cases I swam really close to what I swam for a time trial of same or similar distance in the pool.

All bets are off is the water is rough, the course is long or short (VERY common), you don't do a good job of sighting and swimming in a straight line and/or (in my case a major issue) you start in a later wave (women, and especially women over 40, almost always start last in SE Asia) and spend most/all of the race trying to get around/through packs of slowly swimming dudes who in many cases are much larger than you. In that case it is not uncommon for my pace to be off by more 10-15 seconds/100m or even more.
2016-03-24 7:22 AM
in reply to: AdventureBear

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
Originally posted by AdventureBear

The answer is it depends!

Given flat conditions



I hate uphill swims
2016-03-24 7:52 AM
in reply to: UnclePat

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
For me I've slowed way down in open water. But, I'm an AOS that has had little experience in the open. My biggest problem is my stroke is not 100% balanced so I go off course. If I knew I was swimming straighter I'd swim harder.

Best advice is to get in the open water and practice.


2016-03-24 7:55 AM
in reply to: mike761

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water

Originally posted by mike761
Originally posted by AdventureBear The answer is it depends! Given flat conditions
I hate uphill swims

Heading back down the river can be fun after that earlier struggling.

2016-03-24 8:04 AM
in reply to: UnclePat

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
On training days, I am slower in open water than the pool. On race day, I am faster. I still can't figure it out. I feel like it is the same speed/effort.
2016-03-24 8:06 AM
in reply to: brigby1

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water

I'm about the same over 3k.  I can swim much faster in a pool over shorter distances becuase I'm good at tumble turns but I reduce the explosiveness of those over a longer distance.  I probably swim faster in open water because of the wetsuit but sighting slows down the overall time

2016-03-24 1:56 PM
in reply to: #5173625


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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
OW, with a wetsuit, and drafting off a faster swimmer in flat conditions? You will be much faster.

Choppy, and leading the pack? Slower. Scrum? Slower. Bad at sighting? Slower.

Overly excited because it's race day and fighting a mad adrenaline rush? Could go either way. Surf? Depends if you get whammed by a set on the way out or manage to catch a nice one on the way in.... back in the 90's I did an oly in oceanside in conditions that they would have cancelled the swim on these days. 6-10' face waves were breaking out past the end of the pier. My age group went off right as a big old set came through and only 3 out of +/-50 of us made it under it. Bonus was catching a nice wave on the way in too.

Hope that helps.
2016-03-24 4:40 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water

The folks I'm around swim :45 - :48 100's.......open water they hit about 1:03-1:10 (and that's SCY vs. open water Meters).....or a bit slower depending on conditions and, of course, an open water triathlon swim is NEVER accurately measured like a pool.

Pretty much, though,  the fastest guys in the pool are the fastest guys in open water (at least FOP or near there).....I would imagine it moves along the different abilities pretty evenly down the scale.  ie- the middle swimmers int he pool still are in open water, and the slowest pool swimmers are the slowest in open water.  It's swimming......not magic.



Edited by Left Brain 2016-03-24 4:46 PM


2016-03-24 5:06 PM
in reply to: #5173604


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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
:45 for a single hundred or :45 pace for sustained effort (say >1000yds)? Seems a smidgen fast for extended effort.

Lots of people can hit 0:45/100 if you only count the first 3 yards. Only 0.001 percent hit that for much longer.

I think best 500 I ever did was 4:27 and change, best I ever saw in person was 4:16.. :45s would be a 3:45/500yds......

Pretty darn impressive
2016-03-24 5:15 PM
in reply to: davejustdave

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water

Originally posted by davejustdave :45 for a single hundred or :45 pace for sustained effort (say >1000yds)? Seems a smidgen fast for extended effort. Lots of people can hit 0:45/100 if you only count the first 3 yards. Only 0.001 percent hit that for much longer. I think best 500 I ever did was 4:27 and change, best I ever saw in person was 4:16.. :45s would be a 3:45/500yds...... Pretty darn impressive

LOL - I bet there are 20 boys age 14-19 who can swim sub :48 SCY on our club team.  They all go 4:30 - 4:45 or so in the 500...200 times are 1:42-1:48.  The tri kids I'm around are all 17-19 with elite licenses and I know their pool times.  My point is that none of them match those times in open water.....for a variety of reasons.  But they still beat the kids who swim 1:05 SCY for 100....and they beat the kids who swim 1:20 SCY for 100.  Like I said, it's just swimming......fast pool swimmers are fast open water swimmers, slow pool swimmers are slow open water swimmers.....triathlon swimming is not special.

2016-03-24 5:33 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water

But.....congrats on that 4:27 500.  I don't know how old you were when you swam it, but a AAAA time for 17-18 year olds is 4:36 so you were waaay up there.

2016-03-25 7:33 PM
in reply to: #5173760


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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water
Thanks! As I tell my wife when she crushes me on sprints (D1 full ride sprinter) "once upon a time, I used to be fast".

Where I was going with my question/comment is that someones fastest xx/100 really doesn't mean s*** in OWS, or triathlons at all, as the distances are greater, there is sighting, etc. There were a bunch of guys who could crush me on a 50 or 100, but whenever the distance was above 200, I owned them. Don't even get me started on sprinters attempting a mile...

You even said, the fast kids in your area go sub 48 all day long, but the 500 times you listed for them were in the mid 50s for splits. How do they do on a 1500, 1.2 miles, or 2.4?

Big difference between sprinting and what you could sustain.. i could never get as fast as the sprinters, but damned if I couldnt hold my full speed pace for as long as it took to finish. My wife HATES this. She is a full 5 seconds ahead of me on a 100, but I have beat her by a couple minutes on a 1500 OWS both times in races, and I did that with more waves in my way than she had.

part is my background as a distance guy, an ocean lifeguard, etc, but part is that, while she has evolved to more distance (hell, she's done full distance races for pete's sake), she still is more of a sprinter, and tris (and the OWS part of them, are more an endurance event).

Short version: a "fast" sprinter will still lose to a moderately good endurance swimmer in the OWS of 99% of tris out there, so posting ones fastest sprint/100 is pointless to me (just to me), which is why I asked if the times you posted were for a standalone 100 sprint or a sustained effort at a distance that would be relevant for triathlon.
2016-03-26 12:41 AM
in reply to: davejustdave

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Subject: RE: Pool vs Open Water

Originally posted by davejustdave Thanks! As I tell my wife when she crushes me on sprints (D1 full ride sprinter) "once upon a time, I used to be fast". Where I was going with my question/comment is that someones fastest xx/100 really doesn't mean s*** in OWS, or triathlons at all, as the distances are greater, there is sighting, etc. There were a bunch of guys who could crush me on a 50 or 100, but whenever the distance was above 200, I owned them. Don't even get me started on sprinters attempting a mile... You even said, the fast kids in your area go sub 48 all day long, but the 500 times you listed for them were in the mid 50s for splits. How do they do on a 1500, 1.2 miles, or 2.4? Big difference between sprinting and what you could sustain.. i could never get as fast as the sprinters, but damned if I couldnt hold my full speed pace for as long as it took to finish. My wife HATES this. She is a full 5 seconds ahead of me on a 100, but I have beat her by a couple minutes on a 1500 OWS both times in races, and I did that with more waves in my way than she had. part is my background as a distance guy, an ocean lifeguard, etc, but part is that, while she has evolved to more distance (hell, she's done full distance races for pete's sake), she still is more of a sprinter, and tris (and the OWS part of them, are more an endurance event). Short version: a "fast" sprinter will still lose to a moderately good endurance swimmer in the OWS of 99% of tris out there, so posting ones fastest sprint/100 is pointless to me (just to me), which is why I asked if the times you posted were for a standalone 100 sprint or a sustained effort at a distance that would be relevant for triathlon.

I see where you went now with the 100 times.....yeah, I can agree with that.    But, as you know, even the slow club swimmers are going to be way FOP in any AG triathlon.  Swimming is still swimming.....pool or open water.  And, in 99% of triathlon swims, who can tell what the true pace is anyway....the distances are always a mess.

My point is the same.....when talking about pool vs. open water, especially in AG racing, the fastest folks in the pool will still be the fastest in open water, and the slowest will be the slowest.  Time doesn't count nearly as much as place since the race has a ways to go. 



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