Open Water Swim Session 1

Here is a quick set to consider doing before your next open water session – This is more than just trying to get as many loops done as you can!

The purpose of this session is to have awareness of different speeds while you are swimming. Throughout the whole session you will have to be sighting and you may even get the opportunity to settle into some drafting if you find another swimmer who is swimming at the right pace for you.

If you are unsure of the open water, check out this blog for first time open water swimmers!



These efforts or intensities have to be perceived by you and we’d rather you went by feel than tried to work out your pace or speed using a watch! Use a Tempo Trainer or a watch (to vibrate) to work out the timings of the session. Alternatively, if your open water venue offers it you can swim a known distance between buoys and work the session around these distances.

  • Easy (L1) – This is an Easy Intensity – you should still be looking to hold good form and technique – RPE: 0-2

  • Endurance (L2) – This is a cruising intensity – RPE: 2-4

  • CSS (L3) – This is equivalent to your CSS Intensity – RPE: 4-5

  • Fast (L4) – This is faster than CSS Intensity, think of this as fast, but not sprinting – RPE: 6-7

  • Max Effort (L5) – Max Effort – RPE 7-10



First up, make sure you have dipped your suit and got it damp before your first open water swim. A few days before just get it wet in the shower or bath and then allow it time to dry a day or more before you swim for the first time. A completely dry suit (over months) is stiff and liable to rips and tears. For tips on how to put on your wetsuit, watch this helpful video.

Warm Up

Ensure your suit is on properly and then ensure you enter the water first of all in order to allow your body to go through the cold shock response cycle. The shock initially causes involuntary inhalation and this isn't how you want to start your swim, it normally leads to shortness of breath at a minimum and a panicked start to the session. With frequent open water swimming, this cycle will become more familiar, but it is essential you practice it, especially before your first race.

Then continue with a land-based warm up as you would for a race. For the first 8 minutes, complete the following:

  • Get the blood flow working to your arms with big arm circles in both directions

  • Rotate your shoulders and hips.

  • 10 Press Ups

  • 10 Tricep Dips

  • If you have dryland cords or therabands, use them to also get the swimming muscles working.

For the first three minutes or so of swimming, break into it gently getting used to the water temperature, exhaling into the water and doing some mixed stroke.

Main Set – Continual Swimming

Three times through the following:

  • 5 minutes at L2

  • 5 minutes at L3

  • 2 minutes at L4

  • 3 minutes at L1

Cool Down:

5 minutes of easy swimming. Once you are back on dry land in dry clothes and have warmed up, stretch out any muscles you have used or any areas of tightness.


Safety Check

  1. Open water swimming brings a series of challenges and dangers. If you are not confident, please invite a coach or strong swimming friend to be there with you.

  2. Always swim in twos or more. Never swim alone

  3. Always swim somewhere that is guaranteed to be safe with lifeguards or is a designated swim zone.