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Old 12-17-04, 06:51 PM   #1
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Pool vs. Open water swimming times

I have a swim question for the knowledgable members of this group.

How do 25 meter pool times translate into wetsuit open water swim times?

To explain, I average about 2 min/100 meters in a 25 meter pool. I'd like to estimate my speed in an open water swim using a wetsuit. I'm wondering whether I'm likely to go faster in the open water because of the wetsuit and maybe drafting from other swimmers or if I'm likely to go faster in the pool due to getting a push off of the end wall every 25 meters. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

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Old 12-17-04, 08:48 PM   #2
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I went much slower in open water because I did't swim straight and I did't wear a wetsuit. Also, it depends on conditions, and accuracy of the course. If you are trying to estimate your time, use the same time you are seeing in the pool. At 2 min/100 I'm guessing that you are doing open turns, not flip-turns, so I'd guess that the drafting, extra bouyancy of the wetsuit and not stopping every 25 m will improve your speed a bit, but not so much that you will see a goal time much different than with 2 m/100. I hope that helps, but the real answer is "It depends...."
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Old 12-17-04, 10:42 PM   #3
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I've been wondering the same thing. Did a recent P.R. of 1600 meters in 29:12 tonight at the Y. It's been twenty years since I did my last tri, but I am training for an Olympic distance tri in June. I'm wondering if a 28 minute open water 1500 is reasonable by June.

My experience in Corpus Christi Bay, Texas, was that my swim was 10-15% slower than my pool times (25m). As DogBoy says, going straight is hard. You have to look around with your head up more often than you'd like. Your legs go down every time and you lose momentum that can only be recovered by exertion of effort. Bumping and getting kicked is the lot of mid-groupers.

Most importantly, in a pool you develop a certain rhythm . . . stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, big breath at wall, turn, push, glide, stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, big breath at wall again, push, glide, etc. This rhythm of the laps keeps your pace up, refreshes you and allows the specific muscles a little rest every 30 seconds or so. If you lose your pace or let your mind wander for a bit, you easily return to pace at the wall where the rhythm is re-established. In open water, once your pace is lost it is hard to reestablish it without an effort of will and muscles. Plus, there's no deck clock!

As my race nears, I am going to break my pool rhythm by NOT making flip turns or even pushing off the wall hard. I am going to practice swimming many laps with my head above water and my eyes ahead. The day of the race, swimming with less than perfect form will be familiar.

Just my two cents.

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Old 12-18-04, 09:20 AM   #4
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I think TysonB and DogBoy summed it up pretty well but from an ex-swimmer standpoint you would always go slower with less flip turns.

If you check out the World records, most maybe all of the short course times (25m) are faster than the long course time (50m)

So with open water, i geuss it just how the day goes

Just thought i would add that

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Old 12-18-04, 11:09 PM   #5
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My distance pace is currently around 1:45 per 100 yards in a 25 yard pool. Translating that to open water is tricky. The main reasons are wind and currents. Last fall, I trained for the RCP Tiburon Mile by practicing in Lake Natoma, near Sacramento CA. The race was 2000 meters. In a pool, I could do the distance in about 37 minutes. The Friday before the race, I donned a wetsuit and swam 1900 meters in Lake Natoma in a very dissappointing 39 minutes. Two days later, I finished the SF Bay race (from Angel Island to Tiburon CA) in 31:42! There was a .8 to .4 knot current at my 4 o'clock position. Helpful, but no free ride -- and the first few hundred were actually into the current. The winning time was 20:23

I disagree with practicing by missing the wall in a pool. The best practice for open water swimming is open water swimming. In a pool, rather than doing sets, work on just jumping in and going a half an hour without stopping. Do flip turns -- you get the boost from the wall, but you also get the conditioning from missing a breath each 25 yards. Swimming head up is great for water polo, but unrealistic for open water swimming. Instead, work on "sighting" where you lift up your head every 5th or 6th stroke to see where you are going. Also get so that you can breath on both sides. You may also need to switch between breast and free, so practice transitioning between them mid-length.
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