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2022-06-18 10:59 AM


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Subject: Why do I swim slower in open water
Hi everyone! I am 16 years old and I have been training for triathlon for about a year and a half now. Today I have entered my first supersprint and I feel pretty sad about the outcome. My bike and run were actually pretty decent (I have compered my results to the leaders and I am pretty much on the same level as them). But my swimming is terrible. While training at the pool my steady pace was around 2.00min per 100m and that is the pace the leaders had. However my race pace was 3.30min per 100m. I knew that swimming in open water might be slower than in the pool, but not that much slower? What could affect my swimming speed so much and how do I fix it?


2022-06-18 7:50 PM
in reply to: Triwhenyoudont

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Subject: RE: Why do I swim slower in open water

Originally posted by Triwhenyoudont Hi everyone! I am 16 years old and I have been training for triathlon for about a year and a half now. Today I have entered my first supersprint and I feel pretty sad about the outcome. My bike and run were actually pretty decent (I have compered my results to the leaders and I am pretty much on the same level as them). But my swimming is terrible. While training at the pool my steady pace was around 2.00min per 100m and that is the pace the leaders had. However my race pace was 3.30min per 100m. I knew that swimming in open water might be slower than in the pool, but not that much slower? What could affect my swimming speed so much and how do I fix it?

Welcome and congratulations! 

Supersprint might have a swim of 200 or 250 meters.  Let's call it 250 meters, so maybe 8:45 time compared to 5:00 in the pool. 
Can we account for am additional 3:45 sounds like the question you're asking? 

Was it a deep water start or did you have to run into the water from the beach? 
Where was the timing mat?  Right at the edge of the water or right at the edge of the transition area where your bike was? 
How close to the markers did you swim? 
Did you start as soon as the gun went off or did you wait even a few seconds? 
Did you feel like you sighted well and swam a relatively straight for the whole swim? 

Oftentimes, the timing mat is right at transition, so you may have a couple hundred yards to run from the edge of the water until you cross the mat.  That can easily add a minute (maybe 90 seconds) to your time.  (In a longer race, that time doesn't make as much difference, but in a really short swim, it does.

The course could be long (probably not by a lot, but an extra 25 meters at your 2:00/100 pace is 30 seconds. 

You could have made the course long.  If you swam wide around 3 markers, that could be 10-15 m (almost 30 seconds) and if you drifted off course, another 20-30 meters.  Easy to do without the black line at the bottom of the lane to guide you. 

Every time you life up your head to see where you are, you come to a dead stop in the water.  Now you're trying to start again without the benefit of pushing off the wall.  Each of those sightings could be 5-10 seconds even though you only looked for a second. 

Did you have to swim around anybody?  Get kicked?  Accidentally kick someone behind you?  More seconds. 

Try this next time you go to the pool:  Try swimming the length of the pool with your eyes closed!  If you can make the 25 or 50 meters without hitting the lane lines, you're swimming "very straight" and I don't think you were swimming off course in the tri.  However...most of us don't swim that straight.  This could be a good drill.  Try 25 meters eyes closed during your warmup and during your cool down and look for some balance drills to do as part of your swim workouts.  Don't be discouraged, it can take months to be balanced enough to make it 25 meters.  Progress is going from 1/2 a length to 3/4 of a length!  (Also spend some time counting the number of strokes per length and see if it changes when you're swimming with your eyes closed.  If you can consistently swim at 20 strokes/length, you can gauge progress in open water without lifting your head.

2022-06-19 12:15 PM
in reply to: McFuzz

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Subject: RE: Why do I swim slower in open water
I second everything the above poster has said. But one comment--if the leaders in the race were averaging 2:00 per 100m for a super-spring swim, then the course is VERY long or, as the poster has said, the timing mat is a considerable run from the swim exit. That is really typical for tri--swim distances are very, very approximate and heavily influenced by how straight you swim between course markers, water conditions, timing mat position, etc.

For that short a race, and given that there are almost always some very strong swimmers in a tri (whether or not they end up being among the overall race leaders), unless water conditions were catastrophically difficult, I'd expect the leaders' pace (at least for men) to be much closer to 1:00/100m (maybe 1:10-1:15) than 2:00. 2:00/ 100m would be a very middle of the pack type pace in most events I've done.
2022-06-20 8:30 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Why do I swim slower in open water

Originally posted by Hot Runner I second everything the above poster has said. But one comment--if the leaders in the race were averaging 2:00 per 100m for a super-spring swim, then the course is VERY long or, as the poster has said, the timing mat is a considerable run from the swim exit. That is really typical for tri--swim distances are very, very approximate and heavily influenced by how straight you swim between course markers, water conditions, timing mat position, etc. For that short a race, and given that there are almost always some very strong swimmers in a tri (whether or not they end up being among the overall race leaders), unless water conditions were catastrophically difficult, I'd expect the leaders' pace (at least for men) to be much closer to 1:00/100m (maybe 1:10-1:15) than 2:00. 2:00/ 100m would be a very middle of the pack type pace in most events I've done.

This has been my experience as well...if I break 2:00/100 I'm solidly MOP in most races around here and we have some pretty good swimmers.

I'm typically around :10-15/100 slower in open water, unless I'm wearing a wetsuit then the buoyancy compensates for my swimming in circles. 

2022-06-22 8:37 AM
in reply to: jmhpsu93


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Subject: RE: Why do I swim slower in open water
lol)
2022-06-24 9:18 AM
in reply to: czechcasino

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Subject: RE: Why do I swim slower in open water
I'll add concentration and sighting to what others have said.

Concentration--don't lose it in open water swimming. It is easy (at least for me) to let your mind wander as you swim in the lake and when you're not thinking about swimming, you're going slower. Pool swimming is easier to concentrate, because you have something to do at all times--turns, broken sets, just your shorter lengths in each set.

Sighting also slows you down some. When you lift your head to sight, your feet sink a bit, so that will slow you down. Depending on how often you sight, you could be slowing yourself down a lot. Of course, the flip side is that if you don't sight enough, you'll get way off course and end up swimming longer. It is a balance that is unique to each swimmer, and you have to find the ratio of how often to sight to keep yourself on course without slowing yourself down too much--and it varies depending on conditions.


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