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17 Open-Water Swim Questions That You Should Probably Ask Your Swim Coach by Ben Greenfield

Posted Jun 13 2009 10:01pm

Swimming By now, you have probably realized that there is a pretty stark contrast between swimming 25 yards, pushing off a wall, and swimming back...and fighting your way through 1.5K or more in choppy lake water. This is especially true if you like to follow the big black or blue line on the bottom of the pool.

So who' s to blame? You? Or your pool-side coach/master' s swim instructor/triathlon mentor for not teaching you a stroke that actually works in the open water?

Maybe a little bit of both.

So here are "17 Open-Water Swim Questions That You Should Probably Ask Your Swim Coach."

1. How much time do I lose per 100m by not pushing off the wall?

2. Why do my hip flexors get tired when I swim in the open water, and not in the pool?

3. Should my stroke count and arm turnover increase in the open water?

4. If so, by how many strokes per minute?

5. And if so, should I be using a swimming metronome?

6. Should my breathing mechanics be different in the open water?

7. Should I do the 2 Stroke R, Breathe, 1 Stroke R, Sight, Switch Sides pattern that I see almost all the pros doing in triathlon swim video footage?

8. If so, can you teach that to me?

9. Should I sight first, then breathe, or breathe first, then sight, and does it matter?

10. How often should I sight?

11. Should I change my swim mechanics if I' m swimming downriver?

12. What about in a choppy lake vs. a choppy ocean with breakers?

13. In an ocean start, at what point should I stop running and start swimming?

14. Can I learn how to "porpoise", and will it make me faster?

15. How far away from the feet of the person in front of me can I be before I lose the draft?

16. How hard should I work in the first 200 meters to catch a draft?

17. Will workouts like not pushing off the wall, swimming with my head out of the water and stopping to turn 180 degrees when I' m halfway down the pool actually make me a better open water swimmer?

18. YES. This is a bonus question: in how many open water swim races have you, my coach, actually competed?

Look for answers to these 17 questions, and much more, next week at

Whoisben Ben Greenfield is the Renaissance man of the sport of triathlon.

He' s a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more more.

We recommend that you surf on over to, for more great training advice.

Ben will be coaching the Iron speed Triathlon Camp in Coeur D' Alene from Saturday, May 9 - Thursday, May 14, 2009. Camp info is HERE.

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