Coach Bill's Open Water Swim Workout Schedule

These are not coached workouts, just a swim and maybe a bike or a run (all optional, of course) with Coach Bill and possibly others. Distances and workouts vary. Friends and former students are welcome. Be warned that my schedule sometimes changes suddenly, and I may not have a chance to update this webpage.

To confirm a date, call or text the day of the swim, or send email one day in advance:
Email: bsteele@BreakwaterSportsTraining.com
Bill's cell phone: 978-290-1445 (I usually check for messages just before getting into the water)

Current Schedule last updated November 25, 2013 - hit your Refresh button


none currently

  Check back in the spring Coach Bill.

Locations: Note that the Massachusetts DCR ParksPass can be used for parking at Walden Pond, Hopkinton State Park, Nantasket Beach, and most other DCR locations (not all beaches and parks are managed by the DCR). It's $35/year - a real bargain if you swim or run in DCR parks.

  • Walden Pond, Concord MA - meet on the right side of the main beach (facing the water); check recent temperature reports on Twitter at #WaldenWaterTemp
  • Sandy Beach, Winchester MA - meet on the beach (it is very small)
  • Hopkinton State Park, Hopkinton MA - follow signs to the boat rental area - meet on the beach at the far end of the large parking lot to the left of the boat house
  • Niles Beach, Gloucester MA - meet on the Porta-Potty end of the beach
    Note: For the Niles Beach location, to estimate the water temperature, check the WTMP column on the Stellwagen Bank weather buoy (below). The water off Niles Beach is usually 1-2 degrees warmer.
    Station 44029 - Buoy A0102 - Mass. Bay/Stellwagen
  • Stage Fort Park, Gloucester, MA - meet in the parking lot
  • Nantasket Beach, Hull, MA - meet at the Mary Jeanette Murray Bath House (about half way up the beach)
  • City Point Beach, South Boston, MA - There is very limited parking at this location, so early morning swims are best. Meet on the beach about 200 yards ENE of the South Boston Yacht Club, on the harbor side, not on the Pleasure Bay side.

Water Quality. Between Memorial Day in late May and Labor Day in early September, the DCR tests water quality at various locations. You can call their Beaches Hotline 617-626-4972 for a recorded message listing any locations with unsafe water.

Weather Cancellations. Generally speaking, I swim if there is a gentle rain falling. I do not swim if there are electrical storms nearby, the air temperature is below 55°F, or if there are severe winds or other dangerous conditions. Summer storms can be very localized, so often the swim/no-swim decision is made only after arriving at the beach. If the weather is questionable, before leaving for the beach I usually check the following webpage for electrical storm activity: North East US lightning activity, last 60 minutes.

Note: To take water temperature I have a high quality pool thermometer attached by a one-foot string to a plastic bottle. I often leave the bottle floating about 100 yards from shore at the start of my swim, and retrieve it on the way back. So, if you see my bottle floating in the water (marked Breakwater Sports with a pool thermometer hanging below it from a string), please leave it be - I am out there swimming somewhere and will retrieve it shortly.

Open Water Swim Workout Water Temperatures

As of July all lakes and ponds where I swim usually are warm enough for swimming without a wetsuit. The ocean north of Boston is another matter. The temperature generally rises to mid-to-upper 60s F during the summer and into late September. BUT, there are frequent and dramatic drops to the mid-to-low 50s (for most of us, that is "instant headache" water). So, if you plan on swimming at Niles Beach or some other north-of-Boston location, bring all of your neoprene gear - (long sleeve suits, caps, gloves, socks) you can always leave what you don't need in the car. These temperature drops tend to happen on race day! See what happened below on the day of the Nubble Light Challenge. People who did a "test swim" a few days early found temperatures in the low 70s. When the race started (around 08 EDT on July 10) it was very low 60s:

Coach Bill's All Purpose Swim Training Plan: Open Water Skills + Intervals + Distance

Open Water Skills. Practice sighting. Sight a lot - every 6-8 strokes. You can always sight less during a race if all is going well. Always swim at a specific target. Poor sighting can add 100 yards or more to even a short race. (See the GPS tracks.)

Intervals. If all you do for swimming during the summer is an out-and-back mile, your swimming will get slower, not faster, as the season wears on. Most of your open water workouts should consist of shorter 200-400 yd repeats at above-race pace. Keep the rest intervals relatively short. And keep working on your sighting, breathing, and body position in open water, always. (body position = belly in, neck tall, chin back)

Distance. Perform at least one race-distance open water swim before your race. Sometimes we forget what those longer distances feel like, or even what they look like outside of the little box where we usually swim, and that can be discouraging on race day. But don't overdo it with the distance. Most triathletes do too much distance and not enough interval training during the summer.


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