Pool times vs. OW times
Hi all. I'm well in my 3rd summer of regular OW swimming and a few weeks ago I finally got myself a watch that i can use to time my swims. Previously comfort, feel, straightness, etc were paramount to my OW swims and I had purposely left the pace clock at the pool. My skills have progressed so I decided to try keeping a good pace while I was at it.
I am surprisingly slow in OW. Reliably so.
Dr. Google says it is 500 yards from the boat ramp to the corner of a little rocky island and back. My pace per 100 is nearly 18 seconds slower than in the pool. I've kept that pace for weeks, through different weather, multiple repeats, whatever. It is not just a fluke thing. I finish within 10 seconds from one repeat to the next and the pace translates when I do a few hundred yards more or less.
Is this normal? I recently read in one of the Freestyle threads (Open Water Swim Dissapointment) that 5 seconds/100 is normal for those used to 25 yard pools because of no push off. As I suspected, this 18 second thing seems excessive.
I sight every 20-30 strokes and keep a fairly straight path. I think I have good sighting form. TT is set to the same as used in the pool. The reliability of that pace difference is freaky. Whatever's going on is ingrained, yet its hard to imagine a stroke breakdown of that magnitude. My swim partner doesn't notice anything different from pool vs. ow in watching my stroke.
The only thing I can think of is perceived (and mentally acceptable) level of effort in pool vs. OW.
Thoughts? What are your pool vs. OW pace differences?
One thing that you always need to keep in mind is this; you can have a thousand identical days in the pool (i.e pace clock, smooth water etc), but no matter how many times you swim in ow, you will never have the same swim twice.
Out in nature, you can't control what is going to happen. It might be a gorgeous day weather wise and then the wind kicks up, or you can have overcast skies and its as smooth as glass. Cold water one day, warm the next. If your in a bay or ocean, glassy one minute 5ft swells a moment later. All this will affect your times in ow. It won't matter in the pool.
When your in open water, try to find bad conditions to train in and see if you can maintain a center of calm throughout. We have a saying in the ow community; "Plan for the worst hope for the best."
Naj good to see your still out there. How is the challenge looking? BTW I just read there is a Rock island for sale in the Bay got a cool five million.
Swim Silent and Be Well
I'm the one who posted about the 5 seconds difference, but I have the same problem as Boken. The 5 seconds is actually supposed to be 4 seconds (one second for each push-off). I rounded it up to 5 on that post to make the math easier. I've seen that number referenced in several different places.
Most of my training buddies are triathletes. They wear wetsuits in OW competitions, and their OW times are very close to their pool times.
Everyone says what Naj says about the conditions. Most good open water swimmers I've talked to have told me to ignore my 100-yard pace in open water. But unless the conditions are extreme, my OW 100-yard pace is pretty consistent.
I have had three theories about why this happens to me:
1.) For a long time, I wondered if I was just going into la-la land and getting too relaxed. In other words, I thought maybe I was swimming at a lower intensity in open water than I do in the pool. I have since discarded this theory. Even when I deliberately swim at high intensity, my times are nowhere near my pool times.
2.) I am extremely visual. I'm a whole different swimmer when I can see someone I want to pass. In the pool, there are plenty of visual cues I can use to tell me how fast I'm going. Even when I'm swimming at low intensity, I still try to pass people. I try to gain ground without increasing my effort. This has nothing to do with competition--I get a boost from being able to gauge my stroke. I also count strokes in the pool. I know from my stroke count about how fast I'm going. When I pick up the pace, I add a few strokes. In open water, I can tell how much effort I'm putting in, but I have no way to measure it.
3.) I think that sighting does something to mess up my form. I've seen plenty of video of myself in open water, and nothing jumps out at me. I always look very smooth and relaxed. Maybe I'm rushing the catch.
For me, this has nothing to do with effort level or fatigue. I'm in very, very good shape right now. And I have the pacing issue for short and long distances.
When I'm racing, I do much better than I do in practice swims. Especially if it's a crowded field. I look for caps in front of me, and my body just does its thing to try to put them behind me. Also, the adrenaline of a crowded race puts me into a completely different state of mind.
As per thread the other day the pace difference sounds like you are comparing 500 yards in the pool with 500metres on the google map. This would explain about 18seconds or more per 100 yard pace difference?
Boken. All my open water swim times were acheived wearing a wetsuit so I can't compare pool times to open water times. Here's a thought though for what it's worth. My pool lengths with a TT are far more controlled than my OWS so I can get a far clearer picture of my stroke length. I know whether or not I'm likely to hit my target count when I reach half way (maybe a bit further), so I have an opportunity to improve my count on each length before its completed. In OW I feel less in control of stroke length as there is no way I can contemporaneously measure it. I'd guess that several factors might be contributing to your OW pace: lack of push offs, zigzagging (I don't know many swimmers who can swim straight siting every 20-30 strokes), environmental conditions, reduced stroke length.
Yes, Toby and Katie, I can definitely see how lack of immediate feedback can lead to a slower time in OW whereas in the pool you can correct yourself if you don't see the tiles move like they should or if you slip your stroke count at the end of a lap. Out in the dark water you just do what you do and it's more or less just your muscle memory and feel that you have to rely on. If that's the case at least what I've got is reliable if not optimal.
Andy, I measured and measured again that it is yards. This was the first place I tried to justify the time. Certainly I measured wrong...but no. Although I did mean to say it was 550 yards from ramp to island and back but that was just a typo.
Someday I'll set up my video camera to see just how straight I really am. Perhaps I am overestimating my straightness. I am usually not too far off when I sight but a lot can happen in 20 strokes. Of course, 'not too far off' itself is maybe where I am wrong especially out in the middle of the water. Maybe I should choose 2 targets so that I can have better feedback, kind of like how you line up rifle sights. Right now I think 'hey, the ramp is ahead.' Maybe I should think 'hey, I must have gone a few degrees to the left because that tree behind was lined up with the right side of the ramp and now it is in the middle'. That might take up a bit of time to see/process that but maybe worth a try just for the sake of investigation.
I have decided a few things:
1. While I am not perfectly straight, it isn't enough to justify the time difference. I recently swam alongside my hubby in a kayak who was tacking straight (I just looked to him on my normal breath) and still got slow times.
2. My OW 2-mile-could-keep-going swim pace is not as different from my ow 400 yard pace than I expected. So some of my perception of 'swimming faster' is seemingly just determined by my energy expenditure and not really whether I am actually going faster.
3. So something is going on OW that is not present in the pool that's messing me up. Or likewise, I have skills in the pool that are not presenting in OW. Whatever it is, it is not obvious enough for Caleb to tell the difference by watching from the kayak.
I need to figure out what is going on and I'm looking for suggestions. So far I have thought of videoing eyes-closed laps in the pool to see if I can get the issue to appear in the pool, and to capture it for analysis. Anything else?
Ask your husband take a video of you swimming next to the kayak. You can get a disposable camera that takes video, or he can just keep a regular camera in a cooler or a dry bag when he's not using it.
Then get a video of you swimming normally in the pool and compare the two.
After 6 abysmal open water swims in a row, I had a breakthrough this week.
I knew my form was falling apart on the open water swims, but I didn't know what I was doing wrong. I was swimming great with my husband in the kayak or if I had someone swimming next to me. I couldn't catch the problem on video because I would automatically swim better if someone was watching.
I finally had the idea to ask my coach to observe me at the beginning of Masters practice and at the end. I wanted her to tell me where my stroke broke down when I got tired. It turned out that as I got tired, my hand started entering the water too close to my head.
So yesterday, I imagined my recovery arm reaching out to touch the buoy on every stroke. My 5,600-yard open water swim was faster and easier than my 5,000-yard pool swim a few days before.
(which rate do you choose for setting your tempo both in the pool and OW?)
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