So, we are quickly approaching the 2017 Open Water Season and perhaps you want to improve on 2016? If you want to up your performance, now is the time to make sure your training and preparation is up to scratch!

Training smarter is key and it doesn’t matter if you are an elite athlete or a real beginner; if your training sessions lack purpose, you are unlikely to make any real progress. Planning your training is key to getting the most from your season and it doesn’t have to be complex.


From the old adage ‘winter miles make summer smiles’, winter/spring is a great time to make sure your base fitness and stroke is ready for your 2017 challenge. Although some open water swimmers manage to stay outdoors year round, for most people this is not realistic and generally doesn’t allow you to work on either endurance or technique.

showers at home, but even then ease yourself into the season, aim to complete a few short swims and you’ll soon start to feel comfortable.

1. In the ‘off-season’ every swimmer should focus on improving technique.

Improving technique is ‘free speed’ but even if you don’t get faster (unlikely), with good technique you are far less likely to get injured. Ask a coach to look at your stroke, identify the ‘main issue’ and highlight key sessions to address the problem area. Stick to it, change takes time and most swimmers have years of bad habits to address.

2. Work on technique ALL YEAR

Although you may do less technical work in the summer, ALWAYS make the effort to focus on good technique, don’t get back into bad habits. If you’re feeling too tired to focus, it’s time to get out of the pool.

3. Train with other swimmers

Joining a club and/or training with other swimmers will not only give you structure, but will push you harder than training on your own. Swimming lengths can be boring, working hard with friends/colleagues helps pass the time.

4. Make sure you have the endurance to complete your challenge before trying to work on speed

If your target is to swim a mile, this doesn’t mean you have to swim a mile in the pool before working on speed. Endurance can be developed with broken swims with short recoveries. A typical set for a mile swimmer would be 5 x 200m with 20-30 second recovery after each 200m, possibly followed with 5 x 100m with a 15-20 second recovery after each 100m. All with good technique of course.

5. Work in blocks of training

Plan to spend four to six weeks improving endurance, before reducing the training load and focusing on speed for two weeks. By adopting a cyclical approach, it will help vary your training and you should start to see real progress.

6. Don’t wait till the date of your first open water swim before checking to see if your equipment is still okay

Most open water swimmers rely on a wetsuit, and a good suit is a significant investment. Now is a good time to check over your suit and fix any small tears. If you have lost or put on weight you may need to consider a new suit! Wet-suits don’t last forever and lose their elasticity over time. Remember most fitted wetsuits feel restrictive when they are dry but should feel comfortable in the water. A good suit will improve swim speed.

7. As the swim season approaches, think about cold water acclimatisation.

In May (depending on geography) the water temperatures generally hover in the low teens. You can start with cold showers at home, but even then ease yourself into the season, aim to complete a few short swims and you’ll soon start to feel comfortable.