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-   -   New open water observations (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/showthread.php?t=9627)

Streak 06-15-2018 12:32 AM

New open water observations
 
I am predominantly a pool swimmer. However last summer I started swimming with the local triathlon club at some of their open water meets. I stopped as the water got colder (below 60F) as I do not have a wet suit. Just last week as the temps started hit the 65F mark I rejoined the group.

I found that I was always towards the back of the pack of about a dozen swimmers. I took comfort in the fact that they were strong swimmers who did these sessions multiple times a week all year round and that I was a novice in the ocean. Their mile times were not far off mine (about 28 minutes) however mine were achieved in the pool. My theory for being so much slower in the ocean was that with none of the pool comforts, survival instinct was kicking in and I was swimming at a much more pedestrian rate to keep lots in reserve just in case.

This morning I joined one of my buddies who is training to do the Robben Island swim off the coast of Cape Town and has been training year round with no wet suit to get used to the cold Atlantic conditions. I told him that I was a right side only breather and that I would index on him while he did the sighting.

What a difference!! Instead of being isolated and swimming on my own with not another swimmer in sight and having to do my own sighting I could now just concentrate on technique. I started out with a fairly fast tempo, concentrating on Stewart's 5 and 7 advice during the stroke phase. It felt ok but I was not sure how long I could keep up that tempo (survival instinct again). I then traded tempo for a better catch, concentrated more on my head position and I was very surprised at the results. I started surging past my buddy with very little effort.

It seems that the salt water buoyancy along with the surging of the waves favored the more patient longer stroke technique.

Make sense or am I talking out of my you know where?

Looking forward to those seasoned open swimmer's input.

Oh and if you have not already. Please click on the Robben Island link above if nothing else to just support Hilly in his efforts.

Tom Pamperin 06-15-2018 06:43 PM

Joel,

salt water is amazing stuff for balance.

For me, it usually takes a few open water sessions to relax and maintain focus on good technique.

As for whether the additional buoyancy favors a longer stroke and slower rate, I'm not sure about that. It'll be interesting to hear what others think.

thaddeus.ward@gmail.com 06-18-2018 10:33 PM

I am an open water noob who has found that being patient really emphasizing the body roll makes a huge difference. So I focus on savoring the glide with my body fully extended and doing a short, sharp flick to do the rotation. I think that spending more time in the maximum streamline positions gives you an extra bonus by helping to cut through chop and currents, while time spent in neutral position generates an extra penalty for the same reasons.

sclim 06-19-2018 05:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thaddeus.ward@gmail.com (Post 65808)
I am an open water noob who has found that being patient really emphasizing the body roll makes a huge difference. So I focus on savoring the glide with my body fully extended and doing a short, sharp flick to do the rotation. I think that spending more time in the maximum streamline positions gives you an extra bonus by helping to cut through chop and currents, while time spent in neutral position generates an extra penalty for the same reasons.

Are you saying that the "patient keeping on skate edge" style pays even more dividends in open water than in the pool because being on edge mitigates the resistance and drag of chop and currents?

Streak 06-20-2018 06:04 PM

Sclim, that's exactly what I am finding in open water. I proved it again on my Sunday swim. With no real fixed reference point it's hard to quantify but it was certainly the feeling that I got. Of course this could change depending on water conditions.

Danny 06-21-2018 02:42 PM

My experience in open water is that waves and chop throw off my balance and I may start to raise my head to breath. When this happens, everything falls apart, so the key thing for me in open water is to maintain my balance and body position, especially when I rotate to breath. This is much easier to do if I slow down my stroke a glide a little more. I might add that I see the same effect in the pool, when I am practicing with the boys high school team. No lane lines and swimmers doing everything from sprint to butterfly, so there's a lot of chop then in the water, even in the pool.

tomoy 06-24-2018 08:06 AM

Hey Joel - happy to hear you're getting on in the open! I don't know how many swims in the ocean you have under your belt, but I do remember reading + experiencing myself, that comfort in the water takes at least 4-5 swims. Before that, you're not as efficient. Maybe you're finding it in these various ways. Remembering to release your head etc.

There's ongoing debate as to what "works" in open water vs the pool. A lot of tri-athletes and open water experts say you need to crank up your tempo. Terry worked against that opinion by emphasizing stroke length. I think Shinji himself had to up his tempo but I think that was not because of open water's roughness, but due to body temperature - he was getting too cold. You may not have the same issues. Some tenets pretty much hold as fact though. Balance and streamlining pay off.

I generally find that my pool times are empirically faster than my open water times (freshwater sans wetsuit). Maybe the distance in open water isn't so accurate. I often question that, as my mile times vary quite a bit. I generally think that this is because of wall push-off's where I get a little break from stroking + I'm a pretty good wall turner. A lot of the tri-athletes I swim with aren't so fast off the wall, and they report faster times in open water, because they're not constantly breaking their pace and going hypoxic off the wall. So mixed conclusions there.

You may need to work on sighting. I think Coach Mandy has a youtube on it. Until you are expert at it, don't sight and breathe on the same stroke. Lift your eyes as little as possible. Drop it back into the water as soon as possible. Take single snapshot peaks like a photographer. When your head is back in the water, process the memory of what your eyes just saw. Don't take movie-length films of what you saw. If you peek every 6/8/20 strokes, you can put the film together of where you are with as minimal an impact as possible on your balance. If you get good at it, then it affects your stroke like a breath - and you know how much better your stoke is when you don't breathe. Being able to sight to your buddy while breathing makes sense how it would help your balance. Much less forward looking / balance upsetting.

I'm no ocean expert, but lots of lakes where you don't benefit from the extra salt water buoyancy. Not sure how well this translates, but them's my thoughts! I'm hoping a bunch of us can get down to the Natadores swim on Lake Mission Viejo in September. See if you can work that into your schedule!

tm

Streak 06-25-2018 04:16 PM

Hi Tom,
Nice to hear from you and your always to the point posts!

My sighting is no good, partly technique and partly what to look at.
I start off each swim being able to sight on fellow swimmers but then almost like magic they suddenly disappear and I am out there on my own.

I have done about a dozen open water swims and slowly getting the hang of it.
Breathing every second stroke as I do I am sure does not help but that's not going to change any time soon specially in open water conditions.

I will keep at it and hopefully improve as I go. In the pool my times continue to improve a bit at a time which is very encouraging.

Cheers

Joel

CoachStuartMcDougal 06-26-2018 01:45 AM

Hi Joel,

Great to hear of your ow experiences holding a long edge, sliding below the chop - thatís where itís quiet and lowest drag/streamline. Tomís points spot on.

Iím gonna come down and swim La Jolla Cove at least once with you this summer! Great to see you come out to visit us at coach training last April

Keep up the good work!

Stu
MindBodyAndSwim.com

Streak 06-29-2018 06:06 PM

Thanks Stu. Just did another open session this morning. Wow, I felt like a cork bobbing on the ocean. Rough conditions but spurred on by the others I persevered.
Again, when I concentrated on stroke length, slower tempo, more grip I soared ahead and ended up passing folks who I usually cant keep up with even in these rough conditions, breathing every second stroke to only one side!!

The Tri clubs folks I swim with could really do with some of your input. I' am making some headway with some of them, sharing lots of TI videos. I wonder if you should join us for one of those swims instead or in addition to doing the cove and to get them interested in TI. They swim most mornings but I join them 7am Fridays and 8am Sundays.

I am not going to be available most of July. I can always hook you up with them in my absence if that's when you want to head out here otherwise we can look at August.

Cheers

Joel

CoachStuartMcDougal 06-30-2018 03:54 AM

Hi Joel!

Great to hear and nice work! Iím booked up all July too so lets touch base when youíre back in the states. Love to swim with your Tri crew too.

Safe travels and see you in August!

Stu
MindBodyAndSwim.com

thaddeus.ward@gmail.com 07-09-2018 08:32 PM

Streak, super cool to hear, and totally consistent with what I've been experiencing. Being knife-like in the water continues to help me and my tri-coach is amazed at how quickly I've taken to open water.

I've been swimming in San Fran bay so plenty of chop and currents to keep me honest.

thaddeus.ward@gmail.com 07-09-2018 08:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tomoy (Post 65836)
Take single snapshot peaks like a photographer. When your head is back in the water, process the memory of what your eyes just saw. Don't take movie-length films of what you saw. If you peek every 6/8/20 strokes, you can put the film together of where you are with as minimal an impact as possible on your balance. If you get good at it, then it affects your stroke like a breath - and you know how much better your stoke is when you don't breathe. Being able to sight to your buddy while breathing makes sense how it would help your balance. Much less forward looking / balance upsetting.

tm

Tom, that visualization of taking a snap shot is really fabulous. I am still struggling with sighting and amazed at how long it takes to process visual information when I am in the water. Trying to make sense of what you I am seeing while looking at takes too long and screws up my stroke. I've found that I often need to think of a sighting as being 2-4 clips that my brain needs to string together, especially if I am trying to change my landmark. Can anyone report back on whether or not this improves with practice?

Tom Pamperin 07-10-2018 12:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thaddeus.ward@gmail.com (Post 65989)
I've found that I often need to think of a sighting as being 2-4 clips that my brain needs to string together, especially if I am trying to change my landmark. Can anyone report back on whether or not this improves with practice?

It sure has for me. I recently switched to almost all open water swimming and have become remarkably comfortable and efficient with sighting compared to how I was when I started. Mindful repetition does wonders for any skill.

sclim 07-12-2018 12:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin (Post 65992)
It sure has for me. I recently switched to almost all open water swimming and have become remarkably comfortable and efficient with sighting compared to how I was when I started. Mindful repetition does wonders for any skill.

It sure can happen like that. I just returned from a 93k bike ride today with all kinds of side and head wind, and found that I've finally got much better in biking efficiently in aero position, didn't actually notice when I got comfortable in this mode -- it happened imperceptibly some time in the last 1-2 months. I guess I have been paying a lot of attention to technique, and it finally paid off.

It kills me that my swimming is so slow to improve. I think I'm paying attention, but maybe I'm not, or not enough. Funny, the relaxation and being mindful of staying out of the way of the fluid moving past you are basically the same concepts! The only thing different is the anchoring of the catch against this same fluid in swimming to get traction and propulsion so as to move past the very same fluid whose viscosity and drag against the forward progressing body parts you are trying to evade.

Also funny, I just realized, even the sighting from an aero position on the bike shares many elements with sighting in open water TI swimming! Raising the head to get a clear view of the road ahead is essential for safety, every now and then. In fact some ill-advised extreme head down aero tuck position contributed to my alarming 54k/h bike crash (I drifted onto gravel on the edge of the road) a month ago. The trick is to find a sweet spot timing combination between too much drag and too much blind navigating.

WFEGb 08-10-2018 09:09 AM

Hello,

spent some days in Sweden, Blankaholm... damned GREAT(!) such an environment with so few People and even less swimmers. First time I swam OW alone, just what I do like so much: A small bay, shore not more than 200m away from any point, warm water (22įC from a far too hot summer), water felt more supporting than in the pool, but nearly didn't taste salty (an incoming river around)... and my goggles rested at home...

What should I say, great fun, but irritation from my abiltiy to hold direction. First time I had to care for direction myself, most time with closed eyes, had to stop to get objective orientation. First result: 60 strokes every three nearly half a circle(!)... Found I got more straight, when 2/3 of breathing on my weak-felt side and 1/3 on my "better" side. Still a drift to left. Next day... same pattern... drift to right.. more straight when breathing 1:1... Well on the last day it turned out as random drift. Swam a triangle approximately 200m-sides, there where just two buoyancies and a boot, left and right way round. But approximately would say missing the target at 100m by 10m-20m.

Great enjoyment, missed my usual FPs to FP swimming straight ahead, not really satisfied but will see what happens with goggles and trying some orienting sights integrated next time... If there will be a next time...

Wish everyone to such swimmings one and then... better everytime...

Best regards,
Werner

Streak 08-27-2018 09:32 PM

Hi All.
Back from my travels. Unfortunately my planned swim with the TI group in Israel did not materialize. They canceled the swim the night before due to conditions!

Anyway I have done a bunch more open water swims here and enjoying the warm conditions. I continue to get more DPS with a slower and more deliberate stroke in the open water. I have been swimming alongside a very fit and strong instructor with the Marines who does 2000 yards at each outing. It's been great being able to sight on him and to concentrate more on my stroke mechanics. I even find myself having to hold back a little as I sometimes start to edge in front of him when I get everything together (he's strong, fit about 20 years younger than me but his mechanics are not great).

I'm going to continue doing this twice a week until the water gets too cold.

Thanks for all of your input.


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