Today’s Whiteboard Wednesday explores the differences between open water swimming and pool swimming and how you can prepare for an open water race while swimming in a short course pool.

Open Water Swimming vs Pool Swimming

  1. Water Temperature
  2. Air Temperature
  3. Other Swimmers
  4. No Black Line
  5. No Stopping

Related: Short Axis vs Long Axis Swim Training

4 Swim Training Plans for Open Water

Video Overview

There are a few key points to focus on in training to prepare for an open water race. One of the easiest skills to practice in a pool is sighting. This is where you physically lift your head above the water mid-stroke to see ‘spot‘ the upcoming buoy and ensure you’re traveling in the right direction. Below are some other training tips explained in the Whiteboard Wednesday episode.

Open Water Training Tips

  1. Practice Sighting
  2. Swim In A Group
  3. Mentally Prepare
  4. Hip-Driven Freestyle
  5. Endurance Training

Related: Whiteboard Wednesday: Energy Zones

Example Workout

The following workout incorporates some of the training tips mentioned above. It’s 4,200 meters and should take less than 90 minutes to complete.

The goal of the third set in the warmup (4 x 75s) is to practice sighting. The Main set is essentially a broken 3,000 swim with the assigned rest intervals.

In this endurance-focused workout, it’s important to keep in mind the concept of a hip-driven freestyle stroke. Really think about engaging the core (without overusing the legs) to increase distance per stroke.


  • 1 x 500 Freestyle
  • 4 x 50s Backstroke
  • 4 x 75s Freestyle (focus on sighting)

Main Set

  • 1 x 1,000 Freestyle @ 60s Rest
  • 2 x 500 Freestyle @ 30s Rest
  • 4 x 250 Freestyle @ 15s Rest

Related: Open Water Swimming vs. Pool Swimming

I hope this video offered some tips how you can train for an open water race in a short course pool. Until next time, have fun and happy swimming!



  1. One drill I find good to prep for OW courses with buoys to navigate round is turning round buoys (using back/crawl/back/crawl). Some courses have anything from 90to 170deg turns at some of the buoys.

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