Many swimmers have started to consider training in open water. Fabrizio Antonio, Gregorio Paltrinieri’s coach, offers some advice.

What are the main technical aspects of long-distance swimming?

What are the fundamentals you should master before training?

The freestyle stroke is preferred from a technique perspective. This is because it uses less energy to swim at any speed.

The most exciting part of any swimming pool adjustment is to see how we can adapt our swim stroke according to the conditions we face.

It is important to master your swimming stroke, both from the perspective of “technical adjustment” to lengthen or strengthen your stroke and your coordination. It is essential to adapt your stroke to open water or sea conditions.

Even though you’re still swimming freestyle in the same way, changing your coordination, speeding up/slowing your leg kick, or altering your stroke rates can be very beneficial.

What are the most significant mental factors?

What challenges are you facing?

As we mentioned earlier, the most important thing, even from a mental perspective, is adapting to various situations. This will help you cope better with weather conditions, sea and wind conditions, or currents when racing.

The more prepared we are in this regard, the better we will be able to adapt to our conditions.

Swimming in a pool is considered a performance sport because the race conditions are the same. You can therefore train under the same conditions. Long-distance swimming in open water is both a performance and a situation sport. It’s essential to be mentally agile as well as to be able to endure. It is necessary to be able to adapt to various situations.

Training alone or with a teammate/friend

What is the importance of depending on someone else during this training?

I advise against training alone in open water. Besides the fact that it is more performance-enhancing to train with a partner, it is mainly a question of safety. Indeed, I cannot prohibit training alone. However, no one should teach alone. The sea, lake, or other open water setting can conceal hidden hazards. Therefore, having a partner or at least a training partner is always best.

From a competitive viewpoint, it is much more performance-enhancing: you do not feel the effort as much when you train with somebody else, so you can give a little more, even just by staying in the slipstream. You will learn a lot from this perspective!

Training is also more efficient because you can simulate the race conditions better. In addition, safety in open water is paramount. Do not swim alone.

Swimming in a wetsuit or a regular swimsuit

What difference do you notice (if any) in how you feel the water, your perception of movement, and your swim technique? What advice would you give someone trying open-water swimming as a first-timer?

Swimming in a wetsuit is very different from swimming in a regular swimsuit. There’s a significant difference. Individuals adapt to swimsuits differently. As we mentioned earlier, the ability of a swimmer to adapt their swim stroke to a suit can give them an edge.

When wearing a swimsuit, the active phase of the stroke is easy, but wearing a wetsuit becomes a challenge. You have to overcome the resistance of the wetsuit. Your shoulders do most of the work, so it is essential to train them.

You should start slowly. It would be best if you did not overload yourself at first. Instead, train in a “pyramid-like” manner starting from the bottom. You will find a good technique and general training at the base of this pyramid. This will allow you to adapt to long-distance swims, such as learning to swim first and then racing in a wetsuit.

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