Open water swimming - strategy

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Tom Kuch » Thu, 03 Sep 1992 03:45:14


I've been involved in a masters swim program this summer, in training
for my first triathlon in a few weeks.  Although I feel really
comfortable swimming in a pool, I have virtually no experience in open
water swims, let alone a couple dozen people around me. Can the experts
here give some advice to a novice?  

For the past few weeks I've been swimming in a large pond (Walden
Pond, for those familiar with the area). I have two questions from
this experience:

        1) I have problems maintaining a direction.  I think this may
           not be a problem in the actual race, since the course will
           be marked and I can see where others are going. Am I correct?

        2) Although Walden Pond has very little current to speak of,
           how does one deal with currents and wind, for that matter,
           in a plan of attack and pacing?

These questions concern me now. Since I have not actually competed
in a race, there may be other issues I should be considering. Again,
any help is appreciated.

--
Tom Kuchar                        

Department of Astronomy                              Phillips Laboratory/GPOB
Boston Univerity                                                  Hanscom AFB

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Thomas J. Moni » Thu, 03 Sep 1992 06:26:50

Quote:

>I've been involved in a masters swim program this summer, in training
>for my first triathlon in a few weeks.  Although I feel really
>comfortable swimming in a pool, I have virtually no experience in open
>water swims, let alone a couple dozen people around me. Can the experts
>here give some advice to a novice?  

Well I guess I'm an "expert" having won a few age groups races 'round these
parts. In my opinion there are three key parts to the races.(1) In the beginningyou need to get out of the pack. If you can, the best thing to do is to sprint
hard for ~500 yds (I'm assuming a two mile race - pretty standard length in
Northen Cal). (2) In the middle of the race, settle down to a pace that's right
at your aerobic threshold - the pace you can hold for 2 miles without dying! If
possible get a good draft off of someone who's a little bit faster than you. This is perfectly legal and even Paul A***h does it. (3) Be prepared to have a
kick for the last 500 yds. The guy in front of you will want to lose you, and
the guy drafting off you plans to pass you!

Quote:

>For the past few weeks I've been swimming in a large pond (Walden
>Pond, for those familiar with the area). I have two questions from
>this experience:

>    1) I have problems maintaining a direction.  I think this may
>           not be a problem in the actual race, since the course will
>           be marked and I can see where others are going. Am I correct?

What I do is set up a rythym of looking foreward on every third breathe. I
correct my course on these looks. But you need to be able to swim straight
between corrections. I have a freind who's a very fast pool swimmer, but I
beat him in every race last year (ok, I'm outa shape this year) because he
couldn't swim straight. In one race he swam in front of me going perpendicular
to the race direction!

Try swimming laps in the pool sometime with your eyes closed. If you're good
you can go 20 yds without hitting the lanes lines. If you can't make 10 you
should find out why your not swimming straight. It's probably indicative of
a stroke flaw.      

Quote:

>    2) Although Walden Pond has very little current to speak of,
>       how does one deal with currents and wind, for that matter,
>       in a plan of attack and pacing?

Currents and wind can be very difficult to deal with.  At the Donner Lake swim
this year (2.7 miles) the wind came *** across the Pass and down the lake towards us. It made for some very difficult swimming as you can't establish a rythym at all.

I can't really answer that one except that you have to keep you head in tough
conditions.

Quote:
>These questions concern me now. Since I have not actually competed
>in a race, there may be other issues I should be considering. Again,
>any help is appreciated.

>--
>Tom Kuchar                    

>Department of Astronomy                                  Phillips Laboratory/GPOB
>Boston Univerity                                              Hanscom AFB

tom monica

--
Porpise: run, bike, swim, make cookies

"long distance runner, what you holding out for?"

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by James Peter » Thu, 03 Sep 1992 07:38:19


Quote:

>Well I guess I'm an "expert" having won a few age groups races 'round these
>parts. In my opinion there are three key parts to the races.(1) In the be-
>ginning you need to get out of the pack. If you can, the best thing to do is
>to sprint hard for ~500 yds (I'm assuming a two mile race - pretty standard
>length in Northen Cal). (2) In the middle of the race, settle down to a pace
>that's right at your aerobic threshold - the pace you can hold for 2 miles
>without dying!

>If possible get a good draft off of someone who's a little bit faster than
>you. This is perfectly legal and even Paul A***h does it.

as it has already been debated, drafting during masters and uss <10k open
water events is legal. the only reason it is legal for masters is that making
it illegal would be unenforceable. this i learned from a member of the masters
open water committee craig tribuzi. i consider outlawing masters open water
drafting a minor crusade of mine. you will not be seeing a debate at this
years masters national convention but i bet $10 next year will be a different
story.  til then a kick in the head remedies this drafting problem ;).

Quote:
>(3) Be prepared to have a kick for the last 500 yds. The guy in front of you
>will want to lose you, and the guy drafting off you plans to pass you!

real men don't wear *** nor draft,


 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Don Palmro » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 03:12:19

Quote:

> I've been involved in a masters swim program this summer, in training
> for my first triathlon in a few weeks.  Although I feel really
> comfortable swimming in a pool, I have virtually no experience in open
> water swims, let alone a couple dozen people around me. Can the experts
> here give some advice to a novice?  

> For the past few weeks I've been swimming in a large pond (Walden
> Pond, for those familiar with the area). I have two questions from
> this experience:

>    1) I have problems maintaining a direction.  I think this may
>            not be a problem in the actual race, since the course will
>            be marked and I can see where others are going. Am I correct?

Not really, this is true if there are lots of bouys on the course that are
big and most races do not have enough time or money to do that way.  Also
your goggles (at least for me) tend to either leak water or fog up so I
cannot see anything detailed for 10 yards.

What I have done that seems to work is to pick a distant landmark that I can
distinguish through my fogged goggles which is in line with the swim path
I want to follow.  Ideally, if you can pick two, with one in the forground
and the other behind it you can tell if you are going off course.  This is
a seamanship trick when bring a ship down a channel.  For example, as long
as the two line up, you are on-course.  If the bottom landmark is to the
right of the other, you are left of your course.  Vise versa, if the bottom
is to the left, you have drifted to the right of your course.  Obviously, the
trick here is to be able to pick the proper landmarks that can be seen as
you swim through the waves, look into the sun, AND line up with the swim
course.  ;-)

Quote:
>    2) Although Walden Pond has very little current to speak of,
>       how does one deal with currents and wind, for that matter,
>       in a plan of attack and pacing?

You hope that the race director(s) set out the swim course properly so that
these are not a problem.  Current only comes into effect on ocean swims (I
have not heard of a swim course going upstream of a river) and has caused
major problems in some past races.  Because you are at the water surface,
I hope that the wind is not strong enough for it to affect you directly.  What
it will do is to increase the wave size and frequency which will give you
problems breathing (sucking down water as you try to breath when a wave hits
your face is not fun).  There are techniques to overcome this, mainly (I
believe) by timing your breathing and checking your course so it coincides at
the creast of the waves.

My biggest problem has been other swimmers who will not yield or move around
you as they pass you.  I have actually had to crawl over some guy's back
because he kept drifting to the right and was about to dunk me due to his
actions.  For the first time, I stayed to the outside to minimize my contact
with other swimmers.  This lenghtened my distance but I survived without
loosing my goggles or from being hit by faster swimmers.

Quote:
> These questions concern me now. Since I have not actually competed
> in a race, there may be other issues I should be considering. Again,
> any help is appreciated.

> --
> Tom Kuchar                  

> Department of Astronomy                                 Phillips Laboratory/GPOB
> Boston Univerity                                             Hanscom AFB

There should be some sort of triathlon club nearby (I hope) with people who
generally are quite willing to lend advise.  Check through the local sporting
goods stores that seem to cater to triathletes for information.

Good luck.

Don Palmrose

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Open water swimming - strategy

Post by alexander buc » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 05:04:17

Quote:
>real men don't wear *** nor draft,


Really?

So, real men should accept to die, too, in the name of their machismo?

I'd rather say, real men don't cry when they are outsmart by other
"not-so-real" men.

Sasha

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by John Schmi » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 05:49:13

Quote:

> i consider outlawing masters open water
> drafting a minor crusade of mine.

Why?  Like drafting in cycling, it just makes everything a bit more
complicated.  But as long as everybody plays by the same rules, why
not?  I also doubt that the results would change significantly in
most races if drafting were abolished.

On the subject of keeping course: unless you are very fast, you can
usually easily take an average reading of all the bodies in front
of you and just go for it.  You only have to check now and then to
make sure the lemmings aren't following the wrong course entirely!

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Thomas J. Moni » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 06:55:36

Quote:


>> i consider outlawing masters open water
>> drafting a minor crusade of mine.

>Why?  Like drafting in cycling, it just makes everything a bit more
>complicated.  But as long as everybody plays by the same rules, why
>not?  I also doubt that the results would change significantly in
>most races if drafting were abolished.

Besides, REAL MEN go too fast to be able to draft! :-)

--
Porpise: run, bike, swim, make cookies

"long distance runner, what you holding out for?"

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by John Wilbrand Dahlgr » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 07:20:05

        "real men don't wear *** nor draft"

I don't mean to start a flame war, but..
drafting has been part of competitive swimming probably since
its inception. For examples look at the lane positioning in
any pool race. Drafting is also a fine tradition in bicycling
and sailing, (not to mention many other sports) It is part of
the strategy involved in a sport, just like pacing oneself or
planning a breakaway. Without interaction with the other
competitors one might as well compete on a treadmill.

Jack Dahlgren

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by James Peter » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 07:29:41

Quote:


>> i consider outlawing masters open water
>> drafting a minor crusade of mine.

>Why?  Like drafting in cycling, it just makes everything a bit more
>complicated.  But as long as everybody plays by the same rules, why
>not?  I also doubt that the results would change significantly in
>most races if drafting were abolished.

i don't think masters open water will ever abolish drafting for it
could never be enforced. i have been reading rec.sport.triathlon and
there have been  considerable problems enforcing the no draft rule
during the cycling leg at more then one event in the very recent past.
you can't honestly say you enjoy a wheel-hugger, or wake-sucker?

Quote:
>On the subject of keeping course: unless you are very fast, you can
>usually easily take an average reading of all the bodies in front
>of you and just go for it.  You only have to check now and then to
>make sure the lemmings aren't following the wrong course entirely!

best bet for navigating is to find fixed points on land which are easily
spotted from the water. before the swim attempt to get a perspective of
how the course will appear from the water and locate some large landmarks ie
a moored ship, a bell tower, a lighthouse.  anything that is less than
3m off the water won't be visible from the water. following a group of
swimmers or a support boat are also good ideas.

regards,

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Thomas J. Moni » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 07:46:02


Quote:

>        "real men don't wear *** nor draft"

>I don't mean to start a flame war, but..
>drafting has been part of competitive swimming probably since
>its inception. For examples look at the lane positioning in
>any pool race. Drafting is also a fine tradition in bicycling
>and sailing, (not to mention many other sports) It is part of
>the strategy involved in a sport, just like pacing oneself or
>planning a breakaway. Without interaction with the other
>competitors one might as well compete on a treadmill.

>Jack Dahlgren


Well on the one hand drafting has been around and some sports have evolved to
include it as a strategy, while others (such as triathalons and duathalons) that
are based on a time trial concept, rather than a race concept (i.e, final time
being independent of conditions, versus focus on dealing directly with the
competitors) have "outlawed" drafting, with many subsequent problems (see any
of the reports on the world dulathon championship in europe this year or the
us triathalon championship this year).

As an aside, the swim is the only part of the triathlon where you can draft.

So the real question is, is open water swimming a race or a time trial? I say
it's a race, and strategy is part of the game.

If we decide it's a time trial then we have an incredible problem with enforce-
ment. It may be a nice idea, but I doubt it will work. In fact, one wonders whyu
triathlons aren't treated as races (would sure help us swimmers, who could get
out early and draft off the fast bikers :-):-):-)).

Hey Julie, what's your opinion (being the rules maven that you are)?

Tom

--
Porpise: run, bike, swim, make cookies

"long distance runner, what you holding out for?"

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Thomas J. Moni » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 07:52:46


Quote:


>>        "real men don't wear *** nor draft"

>>I don't mean to start a flame war, but..
>>drafting has been part of competitive swimming probably since
>>its inception. For examples look at the lane positioning in
>>any pool race. Drafting is also a fine tradition in bicycling
>>and sailing, (not to mention many other sports) It is part of
>>the strategy involved in a sport, just like pacing oneself or
>>planning a breakaway. Without interaction with the other
>>competitors one might as well compete on a treadmill.

>>Jack Dahlgren

>Well on the one hand drafting has been around and some sports have evolved to
>include it as a strategy, while others (such as triathalons and duathalons) that
>Hey Julie, what's your opinion (being the rules maven that you are)?

BTW, if you rember the Seol Olympics, the Austrailian who won the 100, said he
beat Biondi by getting in his draft for most of the race!

(so I can't spell Korean city names, big deal)

--
Porpise: run, bike, swim, make cookies

"long distance runner, what you holding out for?"

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Tim Sulliv » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 21:49:51


 [deleted text]

Quote:

>As an aside, the swim is the only part of the triathlon where you can draft.

        In actuality, the bike is the only portion of a triathlon where you
        can not draft, but the conditions are seldom right to get any benifit
        from drafting during the run.  The conditions I speak of are running
        into a fairly stiff wind.

Quote:
>So the real question is, is open water swimming a race or a time trial? I say
>it's a race, and strategy is part of the game.

>If we decide it's a time trial then we have an incredible problem with enforce-
>ment. It may be a nice idea, but I doubt it will work. In fact, one wonders whyu
>triathlons aren't treated as races (would sure help us swimmers, who could get
>out early and draft off the fast bikers :-):-):-)).

        I am afraid that I miss the distinction between a time trial and a race.
        I'm sure we agree that a time trial is a type of race.  There is
        a degree of strategy that goes along with a time trial type event, as
        long as all of your competitors started together, but certainly less
        than in an event that allows drafting.  If the event consists of
        wave or stagared individual starts, then it becomes just an all
        out effort.  If the event is mass start, then if you may not draft,
        then at least you can pace off of others, and look for opportunities
        to jump.

        Enforcement of a no draft rule in open water swimming does seem
        difficult to me.  At least if people aren't conciencious and make an
        effort to keep the race clean.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tim Sullivan

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by Julie Paq » Fri, 04 Sep 1992 23:50:44


Quote:


>>        "real men don't wear *** nor draft"

>>I don't mean to start a flame war, but..
>>drafting has been part of competitive swimming probably since

...lots of stuff concerning drafting deleted..

Quote:

>Hey Julie, what's your opinion (being the rules maven that you are)?

>Tom

As a rule, I certainly wouldn't want to be the one charged with
enforcing it, it would be a nightmare.  In addition to the problem
of safety that would be introduced if you had observers out on the
course to try to catch or discourage drafting.

And, can you imagine the number of protests we'd have to deal with???
"He was drafting off me the whole race, I want to protest", etc...

We've got enough problems of that sort to deal with already, we
don't need to make it more complicated.  

Julie

 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by alexander buc » Sun, 06 Sep 1992 02:53:03


Quote:
>BTW, if you rember the Seol Olympics, the Austrailian who won the 100, said he
>beat Biondi by getting in his draft for most of the race!

It was the 200 freestyle.  I guess if you call it "freestyle" you should allow
anything, right?  Just kidding.  However, I never understood why Matt did not
get away from that guy after first 100.
 
 
 

Open water swimming - strategy

Post by alexander buc » Sun, 06 Sep 1992 03:18:21


Quote:
>So, how big is the usable wake of a swimmer?  In this case the wake
>crossed lane markers enough to give somebody an advantage.  How far
>behind does it go?

I found out that the amount of drafting is direct related the body size
and shoulder size of the person you're drafting off.  The larger the
person, the better effect is observed.

Also, I think that there is a strong psychological effect that drafting
does to one.  Many times in workouts I feel without any energy, so I draft
after a faster swimmer for a while to get my self into it.  If you are
chasing a world swimmer for the last few meters, I am sure that some
untapped energy storage could be found.

Sasha Bucur