you're a triathlete or open water swimmer reading this blog you'll know
by now that your open water skills are critical to your race
performances. It doesn't matter how efficient you are in the pool if you
are uncomfortable drafting or zig zag off course in open water.
look at a drill sequence developed by SS Coach Steve Casson which you
can follow with a friend in the pool to help you become comfortable
swimming close to other swimmers.
Open Water SOAP! (Open Water Swimming Optimisation, Acclimation and Performance) During
mass open water swim starts and when swimming around marker buoys,
a bit of contact with other swimmers is inevitable. Your choices? Drop
back or out to the side into clearer water - reducing your chance of
catching a good draft and swimming further than you need to - or get
stuck in and stay close to other swimmers getting maximum benefit from
Research shows that you can save up to 38% of your
energy expenditure* from drafting behind or to the side of other
swimmers. A huge saving that would be insane to ignore. You might have
tried swimming close to other swimmers before but found it uncomfortable
(or even outright scary) to do so. Open Water SOAP is a drill sequence
designed by Steve to help you gain experience swimming close to other
swimmers and develop your confidence doing so.
his coaching, Steve recognises the variety of challenges that stand
between swimmers achieving their potential in the open water
environment. Overcoming anxiety, cold water temperatures, navigating,
judging distances, judging pace, wetsuit fitting, coping with choppy
water conditions and learning how to gain advantage from other swimmers
around you are all skills you need to experience and practise dealing
with on a regular basis.
The good news is that using methods such
as the SOAP sequence you can develop many of those skills in the pool,
just as easily as in the open water.
 CHATARD, J.-C., and B. WILSON. Drafting Distance in Swimming. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 7, pp. 1176–1181,
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