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Thomas Lurz London 2012 Olympic 10K silver metal swimOpen Water Swimming on 1Vigor
Thomas Lurz

A Pool and Dryland Workout to Improve Open Water Swim Speed

Thomas Lurz

Thomas Lurz is one of the world's best distance open water swimmers and won the Silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games 10k Open Water Marathon Swim.

1Vigor interviewed Thomas on the topic of pool swim workouts to improve open water swim speed.

1Vigor: Triathletes and open water swimmers seek effective strategies to improve swim pace for racing. What strategies do you recommend?

Thomas Lurz: To improve your open water swim speed, it think it is very important to train in the pool with a combination of (i) hard sets, (ii) improving intervall sets and (iii) change of speed workouts. The path to improved speed comes with sufficient volume and hard sets workouts.

1Vigor: What is a good base hard set to train for distance open water swimming?

Thomas Lurz: A good hard set can be like 8 km long, just like the race. Change your swim speed like in the race. Always different speeds. For example for a 4 k training set, change speed every one km.

1Vigor: Why is it important to change your pace during a race? What pace changing strategy do you recommend?

Thomas Lurz: A great skill in open water swimming is the ability to change pace to a comfortable pace at strategic points in the swim that will enable you to finish your swim very strong.

1Vigor: Can you recommend a full 8km hard sets workout which a swimmer can modify according to their experience and objectives.

Thomas Lurz: Here is an 8k hard set workout.

8k Hard Set Workout  
4 x 500 build within each 500, 1st 200 focused on low stroke count warm up
2 x 300 pull + 200 kick warm up
10 x 400 free, hard 3rd 100. 5 minute start. main set
300 easy cool down

1Vigor: What ratio of pool to open water swim training do you recommend?

Thomas Lurz: I only train in the pool and never outdoors in the sea because you can't train race situations. Race conditions are always different and there are many competitors.

You also need to swim fast the Last 2 km in an Open water Race. I am sure it's around 1:02 average each 100m or even faster for the last 2 km. This speed you only can train and prepare in the Pool. Experience you should collect in the races.

1Vigor: What is an important fitness distinction between fitness gained in pool swimming compared to fitness required for distance open water swimming.

Thomas Lurz: Distance open water swimming requires more core strength than pool swimming. Distance open water swimmers need to have good core stability because you need to swim in open water nearly 2 hours in only one body position. Not like in the pool with flip turns.

1Vigor: Will pool swimming provide some core stability strength?

Thomas Lurz: Yes, pool swimming will provide some core stability strength, but the demands of distance open water swimming requires dryland workouts to improve core stability.

1Vigor: What dryland workouts do you recommend to improve core stability?

Thomas Lurz: I do some other land-based activities like ergometer training on the bike and working out at the gym. I do weight training twice a week and sometimes go three times. A solid land workout 1.5 hours on the bike before weight training that includes 3 x 8-12 reps per muscle group.

Thomas Lurz is a German swimmer who specializes in long-distance freestyle swimming, especially open water swimming. He won the Silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics10k Open Water Marathon Swim with a time of 1:49:58.5 and the Bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics Open Water Marathon Swim with a time of 1:51:53.

Thomas won the Gold medal in all of the following races: Marathon 5km 2011 Shanghai, CHN 56:16.6 1 Marathon 5km 2010 Roberval, QC, CAN 57:42.6; Marathon 5km 2009 Rome, ITA 56:26.9; Marathon 10km 2009 Rome, ITA 1:52:06.9; Marathon 5km 2008 Seville, ESP 54:57.3; Marathon 5km 2007 Melbourne, VIC, AUS 56:49.6; Marathon 5km 2006 Naples, ITA 1:04:32.3; Marathon 10km 2006 Naples, ITA 2:10:39.4; Marathon 5km 2005 Montreal, QC, CAN 51:17.2. Thomas is coached by his brother Stefan Lurz, is the author of Auf der Erfolgswelle Schwimmen and lives near Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany.

More about Thomas Lurz

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