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As the 2011 open water season wraps up, it is time to set sights on the 2012 season. Even though most of us will be confined to pool training for the months that lay ahead, it’s never too early to start preparing for the 2012 season.

First of all, the onset of fall and winter is a prime time to focus on cold water acclimation. Swimming regularly in open water, as the water temperature drops, allows you to become acclimated to cold water swimming gradually. Listen to your body and shorten swim time as needed. Be cautious, and swim with boat or paddler support. Know the signs of hypothermia.

Winter is also a good time to work on getting faster. Once summer rolls around, open water swimmers tend to focus on endurance and maximizing yardage. Use the winter months to focus on increasing your speed. An improvement in your threshold speed will translate to an improvement in your speed at all distances.

Brush up on your technique! If you need to make major changes to your stroke, now is the time to do it. Major changes can take months of practice to get used to, so starting now will give you plenty of time to become comfortable before the next season rolls around.

Mix it up in the pool by adding in some Pool Open Water (POW) drills. Swim three to a lane side-by-side to acclimate to competitor contact, or take the lanelines out and add a few buoys to make a mini open-water course. Practice your dolphin dives in the shallow end, learn how to swim straight (eyes closed!), and mix in some sighting drills or heads-up freestyle.

Lastly, inject some open water into your winter plans! There are plenty of companies that offer open water swimming camps and trips to tropical locales that serve as the perfect antidote to the pool swimming blues.

Plan your winter training now to maximize your potential for next year.

By Mallory Mead
About Mallory

imgmalloryWith 17 years of open water swimming experience under her belt, Mallory is considered to be one of the foremost experts in the sport of open water swimming. In 2010, Mallory became the 39th person in the world and one of the youngest to complete the “Triple Crown” of open water swimming. In fact, Mallory completed her first marathon swim, the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, when she was a green 18 year old. Hailing from Northern Indiana, Mallory now resides in Los Angeles, California where she is a full-time swimmer competing in the FINA Grand Prix, professional marathon swims over 10km.

Mallory, when not swimming full-time, also works in marketing for Malibu C, a US-based manufacturer of skin and hair care products, where she manages the company’s line of products for swimmers. She volunteers as an observer for the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation and jokes that she had been to Catalina Island a dozen or so times before she finally set foot on the island for longer than a minute. In addition, Mallory teaches open water clinics both locally and nationally where she works with aspiring open water swimmers and triathletes.

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