Open Water Swimming
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Open Water Swimming Preparation of Alan Bircher. Open Water Event = Race to win - Time does not mean much, but all the best open water swimmers are perfect pool swimmers If you are not a good pool swimmer – forget about success in OW swimming. Pool swimmers dominate open water events:

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Open Water Swimming

Preparation of Alan Bircher

  • Open Water Event = Race to win - Time does not mean much, but all the best open water swimmers are perfect pool swimmers

  • If you are not a good pool swimmer – forget about success in OW swimming. Pool swimmers dominate open water events:

    T.Lurz- 15.00,90; A. Akatiev – 15.09.35; S. Gianniotis 15.09.80; V.Cleri – 15.29.83; S. Ercoli – 15.26.27; Dratsev – 15.29.31; A.Bircher – 15.30.53; K.Hurst – 15.31,95; B.Rykeman – 15.40.85

    K-A Payne 8.34.03; C.Patten 8.36.64; Seliverstova – 8.41.83; P.Okimoto - 8.46.87; B. Kamrau 8.47.77 ; M.Grimaldi – 8.52.41, S.Biller – 8.54.71; X.Popova – 8.55.80

Alexei Akatiev

has had success in both the pool and in open water.

His 15:09.35 in the 1500 ranks was in 25th on the all-time list.

At the Atlanta Olympics, he performed in finale in the 1500

and made the B final in the 400. In 1995, and again in 1997,

he won both the SK and 25K open water races at the European


In Perth at the World Championships 1998 Alexei Akatiev

(than 23-year-old) won a double in 5 km and 25 km races

Rumours are that Grant Hackett and David Davis are going to compete in 10 km at Beiging Olympic Games

  • Pool success does not give a warranty to win

  • People get knowledge about you and may use you for own benefit[A.Bircher, C.Patten, K-A.Payne – not an enigma anymore]

  • Open Water Swimming is a tactical high tempo sport, resembling endurance cycling

  • Teams will work tactics together to win races

  • Physical Contact is inevitable in OW

  • Concentration and positioning is the key to success

Pre- Race:

  • In open water there is a pre-race briefing, which will include a role call, each swimmer will be numbered,

  • they may need to collect a chip (watch type of instrument which records the finish position of swimmers)

  • then the officials will complete the rules etc.


  • Swimmers line up

  • Positioning is very important

  • Hold the lane rope

  • A horn is used to begin the race

  • A good start is a must - Sometimes the race can be lost at the start even on 10 km race


  • The course is laid out with main marker buoys

  • Smaller buoys will be used for orientation

  • There will be a lead boat

  • Course can be done as laps or a start and finish point

  • Conditions will play a major part in an OW races


  • Touch pads

  • Chips/Transponders are used

  • 25 m lanes into finish

  • Perfecting a finish is a must


  • Water surface conditions can range from mirror like to 1-1.5 m waves

  • Water temperature may range from 15 to 32 degrees. May be higher

  • Water current and flow will need to be studied a few days prior to racing

  • Weather conditions can range from cold and wet to sunny

  • All conditions will need to be considered prior to travelling to competitions

  • Direction:

  • 1-2 days prior to the competition try and swim a lap of the course. The main reason behind this is the get some sort of orientation

  • During the race you NEED to lift your head to send you in the right direction. If you had a practice on the course you will obviously be able to find marker points, which can help you swim the fastest course

  • During most races there will be a lead boat, which should send you on the shortest route possible (which doesn’t often happen!!)

Race Tactics: Open water is very tactical. It is not possible to go through all of the tactics involved

The main bits of advise are every swimmer needs to be conscious of what is going on around them and at the front of the main group at all times.

Normally during the final 1-2km the pace will increase dramatically and at this point positioning is critical

  • Examples of most expected Race Tactics:

  • Russians usually go straight forward

  • Germans and Italians keep among front 6-7 swimmers and do a very strong finish

  • Egyptian and Dutch keep within pack (they are not fast enough, so they rely on endurance and are trying to use other swimmers – drafted swimming)


Established in 2002-2003 season


Stefani BILLER


Guest Stars from Australia:

Brendan Capell

Trudee Hutchinson

Josh Santacatarina


Alan Bircher: DOB: 21/09/81 Height: 193cm. Weight: 83kg maximum HR= 193 beats/min Coach: Andrei Vorontsov

Alan Bircher programme CYCLESSpring – Summer 2006

Alan Bircher Performance 2004-2005 CYCLES

World Championships:2004 Dubai – 5km 6th / 10km - 2ndplace(first British World medallist open water ever)

2005 Montreal – 10 km – 5thEuropean Championships:2004 Madrid – 5km - 2nd place(first British European medallist open water ever)

Swimming volume:

Sept. 2003-August 2004=2,948.200 km

Alan Bircher: Particularities of Swimming Training

A lot of butterfly – to build power

and be ready to physical contact

A lot of fast kicking – efficiency, economicity

and conditioning (best kick 1.10/2.32/5.13)

Complex training sets, incorporating fly, IM, BK –

to prevent steady state, to increase physiological

response (heart rate, La, etc.)

Alan Bircher: Particularities of Swimming Training


4-5 weeks – “slow aerobic” (efficiency, capacity)

Adaptation week

2-4 weeks “fast aerobic” (aerobic power)

Adaptation week

2-2.5 weeks – quality/race pace training

Taper = 8-12 days (1.5 weeks)

Season 2006 Swimming Training

6 weeks to go

5 weeks to go Swimming Training

4 weeks to go Swimming Training

3 weeks to go Swimming Training

2 weeks to go Swimming Training

1 weeks to go Swimming Training

QUESTIONS??? Swimming Training

[email protected]