Michał Skrodzki, who competed in the Baltic Open Water Championships in Ustka, Poland last month, asked a training question on what can be done to train alone in the open water to improve his speed. Our recommendations are as follows:
Swim parallel to shore as you warm-up easy freestyle (for 10-20 minutes). Then do a set of easy-medium-hard-sprint swims. For example, swim at an easy pace for 200 arm strokes, swim at a medium pace for 150 arm strokes, swim at a hard pace for 100 arm strokes and then finish with 50 sprint strokes. You can repeat that pattern or do other patterns for the next 30-60 minutes.
If you can swim between two landmarks (such as lifeguard towers or buildings or piers), you can swim easy in one direction and swim fast in the other direction.
Use a waterproof watch to time yourself.
If there are no landmarks, then you can swim easy for 10 minutes in one direction and then swim hard for 9.5 minutes in the other direction. Hopefully, the distance will be the same.
The key is to constantly push yourself so you increase your heart rate throughout your long open water swims, and learn how to quickly shift gears in the open water so you can respond to surges by your competitors, instead of simply swimming at an easy pace for long distances.