Dave Scott open water swim session
Training > Swim

Dave Scott's key Ironman open water swim session

Want to get the edge on Ironman race day? Here's how to train smart in open water, says the six-time champion Dave Scott

Swimming at race pace in open water is key when preparing for an event. This workout combines longer race-pace efforts with short bursts of higher intensity that’ll likely mimic the race. Too often triathletes use their open-water sessions for endurance, but being more targeted will make a big difference, and it’s far superior to a long, steady slog! 

If you and your buddies swim at a similar speed, then this session should simulate race effort. It’ll also help you get used to swimming shoulder-to-shoulder.

To execute this session, designate a swimmer (preferably the fastest) to be the ‘timer’. Have the slower swimmers catch up between repeats. This session can be done in any open body of water. Have fun!  

The open-water swim session

WARM-UP

 10mins swim to a designated point (handy if you swim in a lake with measured buoys) or just stop and regroup after the time ends

DRILL 1

5 x 30secs. Build to a fast effort. 1min rest interval at aerobic pace

Regroup again

DRILL 2

3 x 5mins at race pace, immediately followed by 3 x 45secs very hard

15secs rest between each interval

Cruise for 1min at an aerobic pace after the last 45sec effort

Stop and recollect the group

DRILL 3

2 x 3.5mins at race pace, immediately followed by 

3 x 25secs very hard, with 35secs rest between each

Cruise for 1min at an aerobic pace after the last 35sec effort

Regroup

COOL-DOWN

4mins easy swim or swim back to shore

ADAPT FOR BEGINNER IRONMAN ATHLETE

Beginners can reduce the number of repeats and concentrate on their open- water pacing, instead. Aim for 20mins
total of intervals.

ADAPT FOR EXPERIENCED IRONMAN ATHLETE

Experienced athletes can practise drafting with each other. Alternate swimming on someone’s feet to get the feeling of having someone else do the work for you!

Dave Scott's top 3 tips for improving your open water swimming

GET OUTDOORS

Perform this session once or twice per week once open-water season arrives. By race day, you’ll be comfortable in open water and ready for anything!

USE BACKSTROKE

Don’t just swim front crawl. While warming up I like my swimmers to include 5 x 20secs of backstroke to stretch out the chest and back, this is something you can do in the pool, too.

PRACTISE SIGHTING

Use this workout to improve your open-water sighting. Even in the off-season when you’re in the pool, get used to practising a regular sighting pattern on some of your lengths.


 
 

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