Coaches

The 10K Race is not a Marathon

4/29/2013

BY RUSSELL MARK // HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT &
BRYCE ELSER // OPEN WATER PROGRAM MANAGER

Also known as the marathon event, the 10K open water race is perceived as a long, steady-paced swim. The 2012 London Olympic race proved that it is anything but. In fact, successful pool swimming can make open water success very attainable.

Endurance is an obvious quality for a great distance race. Another absolute requirement is speed, whether it’s the 800/1500 or a 10k – easy speed in the beginning, closing speed at the end, and the ability to change gears in the middle. Top speeds within all distance races are getting faster and faster, so distance swimmers are far from one-dimensional athletes anymore.

This speed makes it fitting for 400/800/1500 specialists to consider adding the 10k to their repertoire. Here’s what the London Olympic race looks like in terms of pool paces: 
 
10K Average 100m Speed (2012 Olympics)

* 1 Lap = 1667m. Keep in mind that those paces are without flip turns, but with drafting, and will vary from race to race, and course to course.

Looking closer at a couple individuals, let’s look at 1 male who is sub-14:50 in the 1500m and was also a top-5 finisher in London; and 1 female who is sub 8:30 in the 800m and also a top-5 finisher in London. Their 800/1500 times are FAST and require speed (average :59 and 1:03 per 100m, respectively). The stroke tempo within the 10K race vary, but they both swam the last lap (~1700m) with their 800/1500 tempo! That’s a high gear for the end of a race and shows good speed! Open water swimmers have to be versatile within the race. 
 
10K Tempo Per Lap

For more information on Open Water training, check out this great online presentation by Jack Fabian and Bryce Elser: http://usaswimming.adobeconnect.com/p2trxo9vh29/