How to get specific race swim practice in the pool

If you are competing in duathlon, then your season has well and truely kick started, however, if you are waiting for triathlon, then in a few months you will be starting your open water swim with 100s / 1000s of other people, hoping that all that winter training has paid off. Therefore, what can you be doing now, to help prepare you for that mass start, bearing in mind its still a bit chilly to be getting in the open water (well it is for me!) Firstly, when you are surrounded at the start of a race, its difficult to see, you need to be able to swim hard initially before settling into your stroke, you need to sight for the bouys, and you need to be comfortable swimming around people, and hopefully benefit from other swimmers through drafting. Then at the end of the swim you need to be able to adapt from being in a horizontal position, swimming for 30 plus minutes, to standing up and running to transition. Therefore, I have outlined below a session you can complete in the pool that is specific to these skills you need in the open water environment. If you can work with a group of people, then even better!

Warm up:
200m easy f/c swim, focus on strong pull, good rotation and relaxed swimming
200m pull f/c breathing bilaterally

Pre set:
2(4 x 50m drills as heads up 15m / swim 35m, 4 x 50m build 1-4, 4 x 25m hard all with 10RI)

Main set:
1 x 400m swim in a group, if 4, rotate the lead every 100m. If you have more or less, adjust so everyone gets a chance to draft in different positions. If you have a lane to yourself, then you can also practice drafting on hips as well as feet.
2 x 200m as first 25m of each 100m swim as if its the start of a race, then settle into your target race pace effort
4 x 100m starting from the deep end as deep water start, hard 25m then settle into just below target race pace, sighting every 6 strokes on every odd length.
8 x 50m from deep end with dive in, hard 25m easy 25m climb out, touch wall and continue.

2-400m easy warm down, mix up the strokes.

This set includes a bit of everything, so you can see how it can work, however, you can build into your normal swimming sets elements of these race specific drills

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